GENERAL DESIGN HONOR AWARD
“Living Corridor”--from Ditch to Greenway: Chinghe Riverfront Landscape Renovation
Zhenqing Que, Student Affiliate ASLA
Tsinghua University, School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture
Department, Beijing, China
Faculty Advisors: Rui Yang, Laurie D. Olin, FASLA, Ron Henderson, and Colin Franklin, ASLA
Through integrating urban riparian corridor
eco-restoration, urban sewage phyto-remediation, urban
infrastructure reformation, historical preservation,
and public space re-shaping, a dead urban river is revived
into a highly compact green park. While re-ecologizing
the degraded river as much as possible, this project
seeks to re-think about the nature and demonstrates
how landscape architecture can bring the nature back
to concrete cities.
1. Site Conditions and Challenges
The project is located on the head of the Chinghe River,
in Haidian District, Beijing, China. It starts from
the Hongshankou at the northern gate of the Summer Palace
until the cross point with Wanquan River north to Tsinghua
University, passing by the Old Summer Palace in the
middle. The total area is 3.8 hectares. The following
site conditions offered both opportunities and challenges
for the design of the project:
The continuous urbanization nibbled the land on both
sides of the river. The native vegetation was wiped
out with only two narrow strips of land left. The 5th
Ring Road also joined to squeeze the limited space of
the river corridor by paralleling through the river
on its southern bank.
Chanellization and Dikes construction:
The river ecological condition was further
degraded by the hydraulic-construction in late 1990.
Fresh Water shortage and urban
sewage pollution: The rapid dropping ground
water table in city region cuts off the ground water
resource of the Chinghe River while the volume of the
urban sewage from newly-built waste water treatment
plants is increasing dramatically.
Ecological corridor function loss:
Due to all the above reasons, the degraded Chinghe River
corridor has lost its function as the ecological linkage
between the West Hill Forest patch and the National
Olympic Forest Park patch.
Public space and bad accessibility
VS open space demand of the neighborhood residents:
The existing two strips of riverside parks
are poorly designed and in short of functional program.
Even so, the riverside is still not accessible due to
the city traffic disturbances and shortage of necessary
Visual influence and physical
pressure to the two historical summer palaces:
The bad condition of the Chinghe River directly affects
the view quality seen from the top of the Longevity
Hill in the Summer Palace and the visual quality of
the Old Summer Palace. Further, according historical
documentations, the 5th Ring Road has occupied the rear
edge of the Old Summer Palace.
- Design objectives: The major design
challenge is how to combine the different functions
including ecological corridor, urban sewage drainage,
large traffic infrastructure, historical preservation
and public recreation and education, into the same
river corridor. The solution is the “Living
- Design solution: To achieve
the design objective, the “Living Tube”
integrates all the above functions by weaving a series
of approaches including urban sewage phyto-remediation,
green roof technique, underground infrastructure,
storm-water management and bio-engineering, and landscape
design into a highly compacted riparian corridor.
Bio-engineering bank re-construction:
The concrete river banks are replaced with the planted
soil slopes. The hard banks are removed away to the
edge of the corridor (under the roads on the banks).
Thus, both safety and ecology will be attained.
Urban sewage phyto-remediation:
By introducing specific native wet plants in
the riverside wetland, the treated urban sewage discharge
could be further cleaned. The lower flow (the National
Olympic Forest Park) area could be irrigated with the
water. Also, a special rid bed channel is designed to
supply clean water for the dry lake in east of Old Summer
Green roof passage: The
project reshapes part of the 5th Ring Road (Hongshankou
Bridge) into a green animals’ passage which links
the West Hill Park with the Chinghe River and further
to the National Olympic Forest Park. The passage is
also a recreation belt with various open spaces shadowed
by tree canopies and improves the view on the site as
Capping the 5th Ring Road:
Capping the part of the northern 5th Ring Road outside
of the Old Summer Palace north wall eliminate its influence.
This also makes it possible to restore the historical
landform landscape of the Old Summer Palace.
Along the river, a series of wetland lagoons are created
to remediate treated urban sewage discharge flow in
usual time and to store storm runoff in flooding periods.
Landscape design: A
series of recreation programs connected with a walkway
loop and many bridges are proposed to attract local
residents. The bright and ecologically functional landscape
also serves as a living material of sustainability education
to the public.