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Concept | Landscape Design Concept

Qingjian Lake Open Space Renewal Through an ESG Approach

AECOM Hong Kong

Short description

Qingjian Lake represents a new thinking in the design of lakefront parks, one that re-imagines the existing park based on new ecological and social priorities. Our conceptual design is informed by a new approach to urbanism where water and community are integral to contemporary urban life. It is envisioned as a new vibrant public open space to revitalize an urban community in the north district of Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP). The goal is to re-examine the priorities for the site to establish a new identity for the park: one deeply rooted in the natural ecology of Suzhou that also promotes the social goals of vitality, enjoyment, community, and nature to refresh the industrial park's urban value and image as it celebrated a milestone anniversary.

The lake is one of the major parks within SIP. The project is positioned as the central park of the Northern Sub-center "Yangcheng Lake South Shore Innovation City", a corporate headquarters base in the high-speed rail station district. By initiating the design with an environmental performance target setting, Qingjian Lake becomes a high-quality "Urban Lounge", an important new economic engine for the surrounding developments and a showcase of solutions for water quality.

Novel to this project context is an approach that initially establishes targets as the parameters for the landscape design and a community engagement process. These two tasks were beyond the client brief as the team sought to explore ways to systematize processes to achieve ESG outcomes. The natural and built environments' synergies in reducing carbon were crucial. The new landscape design framework establishes a green journey around the lake extending towards the nearby Yangcheng Lake. This journey sets up six key site- and community-specific aspects. Three are based on the needs of community groups, and three are based on re-imagined existing programmatic architectural nodes.

Because older parks around the lake already exist, a comprehensive recycling strategy for the existing park assets is needed to reduce the carbon footprint for the development. The park side public facilities are to be integrated with more public programs to help revitalize the park uses, such as the previous hotel converted into a youth centre and the commercial retail block converted into an art gallery with F&B. Introducing underground parking releases open space area for new park programs.

The design maximizes the conservation of the existing trees with the function areas and circulation alignment designed to accommodate existing tree locations and landscape paths ensuring that less than 30% are transplanted. Native species are prioritized in the planting palette. 21 species of native trees were used for a total of 2,241 trees to achieve a 100% native species ratio. Another strategy was the setting of performance targets for the design at the planning stage. For example, ecological edges are to be increased to over 50% from 24% and the wetland area is to be increased to over 4 hectares from less than 1 hectare.

Water quality improvement
Drawing people closer to the water and introducing water-based activities entails improvement of the water quality. The project promotes hydrophilicity through an ecologically sensitive approach, improving the 10,400-meter shoreline. This strategy improves the overall water quality through sponge city technologies reducing water runoff by up to 85% and surface-source pollution by up to 60%. Up to 24,195 tons of water can be captured for reuse. Energy-efficient systems are embedded into the design and 332,000 square meters of landscape greening are to implement water-saving irrigation methods. The new lakefront shoreline shall also not impact the water area and the lake's capacity to be maintained.

Ecological enhancement for resilient habitats
The wetland planting system and floating island also introduce water quality improvements and create habitats for waterfowl and amphibians to improve the shoreline habitat's ecology and carbon sink. Overall, the goal is to strengthen the ecological value of the public green area.

The existing site condition already possesses good ecological value. Additional piles of wood, artificial birds' nests and small animal nests, etc., are strategically placed to shape urban microhabitats and enhance biodiversity.

Design to accommodate climate change
The landscape waterfront area is also designed to anticipate the flooded seasons with the 100-year flood data as reference. The waterfront space allows some parts of the green area to be flooded during heavy rainfall without affecting the overall function and circulation system of the park. The hard surface areas use paving material that can be easily cleaned up, and the planting areas are to be planted with flooded tolerant and riparian plant species.

Shifting to clean energy
Public charging stations will be provided at the parking areas are to increase and encourage new energy vehicles which will eventually replace traditional fuel vehicles and reduce urban carbon emissions.
The small public facilities demonstrate zero-carbon value and green, healthy lifestyle concepts, including the use of energy-saving LED in combination with solar energy panels. The jogging tracks, bicycle trail, and sports playgrounds pavement will be permeable or energy-generating.

Material recycling
Existing structures, such as paths, platforms, etc., need to be demolished before their materials can be reused in the design improvement. Most of the new structures and elements will be made of 100% recyclable or natural materials.

Qingjian Lake is expected to accomplish a total of 13 action points across 4 categories namely, Ecological Shoreline, Resilient Habitat, Water Saving, and Energy Conservation. The design represents a commitment to sustainability and resilience. The community is reinvigorated for the next wave of high-end manufacturing and emerging industries through our re-imagining of the lakefront park. The project is pioneering in SIP through its consolidated ESG approach, which engaged the client and government along the way.

Entry details
LocationSuzhou, China
Lead designerLen Ren Lee, Shirley Chen, Eva Huang, Kan Srisawat, Joshua Bigcas
Design teamErh Min Yu, Ben He, Ni Ni, Dimbber Ondo, Jason Pasion, Mayton Xu, Ryan Yao, Sky Kwok, Angel Yuen, Josh Saengwanloy, Du Chen, Huiyi Qian, Ryan Guan, Xiaodan Liu, Daniel Park, Betty Yang, Stella Liu, Ray Liu, Danhua Zhang, Sidun Xiong, Wentong Wang, Hatty Zhang
Consultant teamClient - Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee, LDI - Suzhou Hezhan Design & Construction Co., Ltd.
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