“Once a home to industry and its contaminated soils, a new central park for a northwest Shanghai district becomes a lush multi-ecosystem environment that brings biodiversity into the dense city. Achieving 70 percent tree coverage within the site, Taopu Central Park becomes a healing lung for the city while providing ample space for universally accessible recreation and pedestrian activity spread across 237 acres, with multiple transit-proximate entrances. Flood mitigating strategies built into the park around its wetlands—including permeable pavement at roadways—lead to a massive underground pool capable of storing nearly 8 million gallons of water per day. Islands, bridges, and pavilions provide a variety of experiences for visitors to the park to re-engage with sculpted aquatic habitats.”
– 2020 Awards Jury
Taopu Central Park is the unifying element and urban green lung for Taopu Smart City, a science and technology hub in northwest Shanghai. Inspired by traditional Chinese culture’s tenets of graceful movement and beauty, the park’s dynamic and fluid network of pathways, waterways, and topography improve water quality, manage stormwater, provide an elegant soil remediation strategy, and create connections that transform industrial lands into a living ecosystem and a new kind of urban ecological park for China.
Taopu Central Park breaks the mold for many parks in China. Land bridges and tunnels allow for needed road infrastructure while still creating a large continuous park, which prioritizes pedestrian safety, strengthens neighborhood connections, and creates habitat and wildlife corridors. The result is a dramatic and sizeable 237-acre park that redefines the city’s relationship to water, provides a sense of big nature within a dense urban context, and supports 21st-century metropolitan life with spaces for habitat, water, events, and display.
▲鸟瞰：桃浦中央绿地打破了中国许多公园的固有模式。路上桥梁和隧道在满足道路基础设施需要的同时创造出一个庞大且连续的公园，优先考虑了行人的安全，加强了邻里联系，创造出新的栖息地和野生动物走廊。Aerial View. Taopu Central Park breaks the mold for many parks in China. Land bridges and tunnels allow for road infrastructure as needed while still creating a large continuous park, which prioritizes pedestrian safety, strengthens neighborhood connections, and creates wildlife corridors. © Holi Photography
▲桃浦中央绿地以“新自然”作为核心概念，其设计以中国传统文化中优雅的流动之美为灵感。New Nature. The concept for Taopu Central Park, “new nature,” is influenced by the tenets of graceful movement and beauty found in traditional Chinese culture. © James Corner Field Operations
▲桃浦中央绿地分层示意：通过对道路网络、地形、植被、水系统以及功能空间的谨慎规划和分层，桃浦中央绿地整合了多种功能，每个层级都为创造动态且别致的景观发挥了重要作用。Taopu Central Park Layers. Through thoughtful layering of a path network, sculpted landforms, vegetation, a designed water system, and programming, Taopu Central Park integrates many features and each layer plays a role in the creation of a dynamic and compelling landscape. © James Corner Field Operations
▲桃浦中央绿地是桃浦智创城具有决定性作用的统一元素。桃浦智创城是上海西北部的一个新开发区域，专注于创造活跃、繁荣且功能多样的科技中心。Taopu Smart City. Taopu Central Park is the unifying element in Taopu Smart City, a new development in northwest Shanghai focused on the creation of an active, vibrant, and mixed-use hub for science and technology. © James Corner Field Operations
▲一个连续的公园：所有穿过场地的道路都将得到改造，以创建连续的公园和城市栖息地。古浪路上方的小丘形成了一个观景平台，其下方的隧道连接了东西向的交通。One Continuous Park. All roads that cross the site will be modified to create one continuous park and urban habitat. Gulang Road has a mound built over it that creates a viewing deck from the top with a tunnel connecting west-east traffic below. © Holi Photography
▲探出树冠的瞭望台，其设计受到传统寺庙的曲线元素的影响，在顶端延伸为一个观景平台。Watchtowers. Nested in the tree canopy, watchtowers are inspired by the curvy geometry of traditional pagodas, arching upward with a viewing platform. © Holi Photography
▲人们可以通过旋转楼梯攀爬至瞭望台的顶端，在大自然的包围下，欣赏城市与公园本身的独特景色。Watchtowers set within the forest allow people to climb to the top through a spiral staircase and feel surrounded by nature with unique views of the city and park itself. © INSAW Image
▲水体。桃浦中央绿地包含一块湿地，在上海降雨频繁和地下水位较高的现状下，创造了城市与水的新联系。Water. With a central wetland feature, Taopu Central Park creates a new relationship between the city and water, amidst Shanghai’s frequent rain and high water table. © INSAW Image
▲零售空间、地下商业区和文化空间通过一条连续互通的路径网络与公园的特色街道和景观连接起来，并且实现了各个空间的顺畅过渡。Continuous & Integrated Path Network. A continuous and integrated path network connects retail, underground commercial areas, and cultural spaces with park features and streetscapes, allowing for smooth transitions between. © Holi Photography
▲水的体验：在展示和教育的视角之外，游客们还可以通过许多其他方式来体验公园中的水：从柔软的湿地，到岛屿，到休闲湖泊，再到造型独特的城市码头。Water Experiences. There are many ways for visitors to experience water outside of a performative and educational lens: from soft wetlands, to islands, to recreational lakes, to the more sculpted urban quay. © INSAW Image
▲自然游乐场：原木桩、攀爬柱和滑梯为孩子们提供了量身定制的游玩场地。这些游戏元素采用当地有机材料建造，摒弃了游乐场通常会使用的人工和合成材料。Nature Playground. Log stacks, climbing poles, slides, and a climbing net all allow for children to play in a playground designed specifically for them and constructed with local organic materials, rather than the artificial and synthetic materials typically used in nearby playgrounds. © Holi Photography
▲毛毛虫隧道：竹制隧道的编织纹理能够让光线进入，柔软的体量也使其可以环绕在游乐场的北部边缘。Caterpillar Tunnel. The bamboo tunnel features a textured weave that allows light to enter while curving around the north perimeter of the playground. © Holi Photography
▲两座垂柳岛提供了安静又放松的空间，其间分布着柳树林和细叶针茅。Willow Islands. The two Willow Islands offer a quiet and relaxing space with groves of willow trees and stipa lessingiana plantings. © Holi Photography
▲相互连接的岛屿：一系列相互连接的岛屿——包括垂柳岛、枫树岛和桃花岛——为开阔且活跃的场地提供了宁静的空间，同时也增强了整个公园的体验性和生物多样性。Interconnected Islands. A series of interconnected islands connected by arching foot bridges—Willow Islands, Maple Islands, and Peach Blossom Island—offer quiet spaces within the larger, more active park, contributing to a variety of experiences and biodiversity throughout. © INSAW Image
▲细节：桃浦中央绿地的设计选择了多种天然材料，包括瓦片和原木铺地、竹结构、树桩和繁茂的植物等等，进一步凸显了公园的自然气息。Details. Taopu Central Park is designed with many natural material selections, adding natural texture from tile paving, log paving, bamboo structures, tree stumps, and lush plantings. © (from left to right, top to bottom) Images 1-3 James Corner Field Operations, Image 4-5 Holi Photography, Image 6 James Corner Field Operations
Taopu Smart City
Over the past 30 years, Shanghai has been forced to confront the pressures of unprecedented urban growth by shifting from a concentric model of metropolitan form to a polycentric model. The result is a series of hyper-connected urban hubs with distinct identities, strongly linked to the city center via transit. As Shanghai has grown, it has repurposed industrial sites at its outskirts, including Taopu. The 4.2-square-kilometer “Taopu Smart City” is a new science and technology hub in northwest Shanghai with an expected population of 29,000 people.
Taopu has gone through a number of transformations in a short time. From 1950–1997, it was primarily a site for chemical, pharmaceutical, textile, and light industry uses, and was known to be one of the most heavily polluted areas of the city. From 1997–2000, Taopu was one of the first urban industrial parks in Shanghai, reflecting the municipal government’s shift to printing and packaging industries within its most polluted areas. In 2009, Taopu’s economy began shifting again, this time into the productive service and high tech industries, in line with a growing desire to create a city that is both industrial and livable. In 2014, the district government launched Taopu Smart City to complete the transformation of the Taopu region from polluted industrial lands into a hub for science and technology. Today, Taopu Central Park has become the defining and unifying element of Taopu Smart City, reflecting its ethos as a green eco-city and actively participating in its remediation and reclamation.
The new Taopu Central Park is a functioning ecological system and a bustling hub of commerce, innovation, leisure, and entertainment. The park choreographs the movement of people, water, air, soil, and wildlife while filtering pollutants and providing much needed habitat. A primary aim of Taopu Smart City is to fuel economic growth and innovation by offering a well-connected and exceptional public space as a catalyst for high-quality urban development. This “Park-City Symbiosis” distinguishes Taopu from other territories in Shanghai and identifies Taopu as a benchmark for technological, cultural, and environmental innovation. Taopu Central Park’s success in integrating contemporary, sustainable, and innovative forms of urban development with nature offers a vision that can become a model for urban growth for Shanghai and the world. The result is a dramatic and sizeable 237-acre park that redefines the city’s relationship to water, functions as an essential urban green lung within a dense urban context, provides a sense of big nature, and defines a memorable and connected ecological district, all while supporting 21st-century metropolitan life with spaces for habitat, water, events, and display.
According to the Asian Green Cities Index, Shanghai is among the cities with the least accessible green space per resident. The City has responded to this issue with a set of metropolitan-scale plans to enrich the public realm and connect isolated ecosystems. The Shanghai Green Corridor is at the forefront of this planned ecological initiative, Taopu Central Park playing a critical role as the largest built piece. Inspired by traditional Chinese culture’s tenets of graceful movement and beauty, the park’s dynamic and fluid network of pathways, waterways, and topography improve water quality, manage stormwater, provide an elegant soil remediation strategy, and create connections that transform industrial lands into a living ecosystem and a new kind of urban ecological park for China.
In a city that experiences frequent rain with a high water table less than two meters below the surface, Shanghai is in great need of flood control. In response, the Taopu Central Park’s water system connects to existing canals, with a central valley that channels and guides water through a series of aeration features and cleansing wetlands to filter and improve water quality while collecting water for reuse onsite. These reshaped waterways are one of the defining features of the park’s design, with water purification techniques on display as visible pieces of the landscape. Taopu Smart City is part of the Sponge City Pilot project for which China is targeting 80% of urban areas to absorb and reuse at least 70% of rainwater by 2030 to help combat climate change.
There are many ways for visitors to experience water outside of a performative and educational lens: from soft wetlands, to islands, to recreational lakes, to the more sculpted urban quay. A huge underground water pool beneath Taopu Central Park can store about 30,000 cubic meters of water per day, reducing nearby flooding risks by diverting water into the park’s lake and storing water for use during droughts. The park uses innovative materials such as porous asphalt for roads, which allows water to penetrate at a rate of 4,000 metric liters per minute, and ASWOOD, made from sawdust which allows water to penetrate road surfaces to reach plant roots underneath it.
Large-scale earthwork was necessary to confront some of the site’s industrial legacy, including excavation, relocation, and capping of contaminated soils. Soils were managed on site, rather than being removed or stored elsewhere, as a long-term ecological benefit. In contrast with Shanghai’s flat topography, this rough earthwork provided a topographic base upon which the park’s sculpted landforms can create vistas and valleys with incredible views of the city and the park itself. Watchtowers set within the forest leverage new views and allow for an experience of immersion within nature and the city simultaneously.
The park provides a sense of expansive nature in the context of a dense urban environment. Trees cover 70% of the site, providing ample shade for the park and contributing to carbon sequestration in the region. Trees and landforms also define the park edges and shape the interior. A palette of native and adaptive species were selected for Shanghai’s climate, including dawn redwood, gingko, willow, cypress, and peach trees that flank the central waterway. The species selection recalls the site’s history as an agricultural village with a small creek edged by peach trees on both sides, evoking Taopu’s namesake (literally “peach river”). A series of interconnected islands—Willow Islands, Maple Islands, and Peach Blossom Island—offer quiet spaces within the larger, more active park, contributing to a variety of experiences and biodiversity throughout. A robust palette of street trees creates continuity between the park and its urban surroundings, and adds character and identity to the larger ecological district.
Connectivity & Accessibility
Taopu Central Park breaks the mold for many parks in China. Land bridges and tunnels allow for needed road infrastructure while still creating a large continuous park, which prioritizes pedestrian safety, strengthens neighborhood connections, and creates habitat and wildlife corridors. In the central portion of the park, Taopu Hill & Overlook—a mound built over Gulang Road—creates a viewing deck from the top, with a tunnel connecting west-east traffic below. As the highest elevation in downtown Taopu, this opens up new views and vistas of Shanghai.
A continuous and integrated path network connects retail, underground commercial areas, and cultural spaces with park features and streetscapes, allowing for smooth transitions between. Main entrances are located within a 5-minute walk from subway stops or public transportation, enhancing accessibility for the Shanghai area. All land bridges and paths are graded to meet ADA standards and special features are designed to ensure universal accessibility for people of all abilities. A nature playground features a series of custom elements constructed from local organic materials, including a unique “Caterpillar Tunnel” made out of bamboo by local craftsmen, alongside a “Bamboo Cocoon” that creates a cozy woven-bamboo space encouraging free play.