The city of Wuhan, China, long known throughout the country as the “crossroads of nine provinces,” has become an urban center within the last few years, seeing a population explosion thanks to the rapid expansion of China’s High-Speed Railway network. In an effort to capitalize on the city’s burgeoning national significance, the Wuhan Planning Bureau recently approved the Wuhan Yangchun Lake Business District, a 4,448-acre master plan designed by international design firm Sasaki in collaboration with ARUP, JLL, and the Wuhan Planning Institute.
In light of the site’s proximity to the nearby Yangchun Lake, which has lately suffered from poor water quality, as well as a large solid waste landfill near the waterfront that has negatively contributed to the city’s air quality, Sasaki’s main concern was improving the district’s environment conditions by incorporating over 900 acres of green space. The canal network coursing through the district will be “naturalized” to re-establish its connection to the lake’s floodplain to manage stormwater during city-wide floods while repairing the existing riparian habitat.
The master plan was thus centered around a large park that sits atop the former solid waste landfill and is additionally organized around newly constructed wetlands along the lake to benefit local biodiversity as well as provide several recreational paths for pedestrians. Greenways planted along several existing roadways will provide an urban tree canopy along the city’s busiest pathways, and a series of pocket parks sprinkled throughout the site are intended to ensure that all residents of the district are within a ten-minute walk from a public landscape.
By developing an extensive pedestrian network along and within those green spaces and densifying the street grid, the master plan produces a “human-scaled environment” that will likely encourage residents to more heavily rely on public transportation and walking or biking between destinations. While existing neighborhoods will remain intact as much as possible to avoid disrupting preexisting social dynamics, the land uses between blocks will be redeveloped to foster new business opportunities and social networks. Multiple buildings in the new district will be designed with sky gardens and direct access to parks and pedestrian pathways. The result of the overall Wuhan Yangchun Lake Business District, according to a press release from Sasaki, is a “landscape-forward urban blueprint that advances an environmentally progressive agenda and defines Wuhan’s next generation of growth.”