For decades, the edge of China’s Fu River was little more than a concrete embankment. Like many municipalities around the world, the city of Chongqing had made the mistake of transforming its natural riverfront into a hard, “impenetrable” flood wall. It not only made for a dull, lifeless setting, but it ultimately failed at its sole purpose, as extreme weather became more frequent and waters threatened the surrounding farmland. Enter Turenscape.
The Beijing-based landscape architects (winners of past AZ Awards) have replaced the flat concrete barrier with a natural habitat that welcomes the water instead of repelling it. The nearly 99-hectare park that now embraces the river is a constructed wetland of naturally porous, biodiverse and flood-resilient indigenous vegetation complemented by a series of ponds and islands.
It serves as a great green sponge that retains monsoon floods while capturing nutrient-rich agricultural runoff. A series of simple pedestrian paths cut across the terrain, pleasantly contrasting the unmanicured landscape with a radically pared-down — and conspicuously artificial — geometry of sharp intersecting angles. The walkways resolve at sculptural seating areas that offer pockets of sheltered respite.
It’s a revitalized ecosystem. And it works. In 2020, Chongqing faced a 100-year storm that submerged the plants and footpaths. But the landscape quickly recovered, absorbing the water as intended and protecting nearby farms from flooding.
Team Kongjian Yu with Huiyong Zhang, Fei Shao, Yaqi Zhang, Liming Chen, Jian Zong, Jialiang Sun, Liusha Zhang, Donghua Zhang, Mingyu Cao, Lei Zhang and Wentao Li
For decades, the edge of China’s Fu River was little more than a concrete embankment.