Putuo Caoyang Centennial Park / Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects

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Putuo Caoyang Centennial Park / Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects

installation of plants under the south BOTTLE area.  Image © Runzi Zhunorth entrance on Caoyang Road.  Image © Runzi Zhusemi-buried north entrance.  Image © Runzi Zhunorth play area and art wall.  Image © Runzi Zhu+ 63

North entrance to Caoyang road aerial view.  Image © Runzi Zhu
North entrance to Caoyang road aerial view. Image © Runzi Zhu

General concept and objective. Once carrying the Zhenru Freight Railway Junction and later the Caoyang Farmers’ Market, the nearly one kilometer long and 10 to 15 meter wide site has been reprogrammed into a new multi-storey park. levels and mixed use. , walkable and community-centric, shortly after the market closed in 2019. Designed as “3K corridors,” Caoyang Centennial Park brings art to community life, echoing the theme of Shanghai SUSAS 2021. The contexts of the site were uncovered and the scenes redesigned, so as to design a walking belt in the shape of a vine and a melon, from north to south, to reshape the grassland system of streets, giving a new stage of organic renewal of the Caoyang community. The particular linear site, having served as railway land and then as a market for more than 20 years, is a residual space typical of megalopolises. You realize at first glance that even in a familiar city there are unexpected and surprising scraps, and you have to think about how to recycle them in the age of urban redevelopment.

north entrance on Caoyang Road.  Image © Runzi Zhu
north entrance on Caoyang Road. Image © Runzi Zhu
axonometric diagram
axonometric diagram

Context and opportunity. Caoyang Xincun, the first working class community planned by the PRC government, carries special collective memories and historical processes of that time. Near the workers’ residences were market houses built along the abandoned railway line on the site. To improve Caoyang’s standard of living and spatial quality, the district government and its sub-district office have transformed the place into a city park for future leisure, cultural and daily events. The project had a tight schedule: 2 days to sketch out a design and 2 weeks to improve and firm it up. After that, under the coordination of several departments, all the works went smoothly, the design followed by the drawings and the concreting by steel frame. In less than a year, the park idea became a reality and put into service.

Design strategy and scenarios. Through a tiered strategy, the narrow site expands three times for different use by different people in nearby residences, schools, and offices. With the limitation of distances at the base of the underground tunnel and the surrounding construction, it is excavated only 1 meter deep for a semi-basement. The first level is raised to 1.4 meters to make more space for the semi-basement as a social “container” for temporary programs such as artist exhibitions, community activities, creative markets, etc. . In addition, the Highline lane is limited to 3.8 meters in height to avoid public space that may disturb surrounding residential houses.

urban living room.  Image © Runzi Zhu
urban living room. Image © Runzi Zhu
north play area and art wall.  Image © Runzi Zhu
north play area and art wall. Image © Runzi Zhu
north semi-buried open space.  Image © Runzi Zhu
north semi-buried open space. Image © Runzi Zhu

In the 880-meter-long park, divided into northern and southern parts, 10 scenarios are designed to serve public functions such as gathering, animation, entertainment, leisure, sports, etc. Stretching from the center to the north and south ends, the corridor connects social energy and forms tiered spaces in separation but in dialogue with each other. The north gate is the main entrance. With the integration of the facade design of the Lianong building and the nearby Zhongqiao Tower, the ground floor level and the Highline together define the entrance, facing Caoyang, like a city hall, where the visitors can walk around and admire. In the middle passes a double-line expressway on Lanxi Road, integrating the park walking experience on both sides. Life on the streets with people walking and cars driving together then consists of part of the scenes in the park. A circular corridor connects two lanes of the Highline in the southern section, with two hackberry trees rising through the voids of the structure. With stretching branches and tangling leaves, visitors can touch the green while walking the Highline. We hope that there will be as much greenery as possible in the park. Planting trees, grass and flowers makes it a steel ivy.

aerial view of love bridge.  Image © Runzi Zhu
aerial view of love bridge. Image © Runzi Zhu
love bridge structure.  Image © Runzi Zhu
love bridge structure. Image © Runzi Zhu

Three important linear public spaces designed by ALYA: Aite Riverfront Park along Suzhou Stream, Pudong Minsheng Pier Connection Project and Yangpu Riverside Connection Project along Huangpu River. The latter two separately served as the Shanghai SUSAS 2017 and 2019 exhibition sites. We have summarized the experience of these projects in the design of the Caoyang Centennial Park, which however differs from the riverside spaces. She is set in such a typical context, a worldly community while playing an atypical role likely to be overlooked. The project is an important revelation for us to study and work in the next stage how to creatively harness the potentials and harness the energies in these remaining spaces.

Lanxi Road Overpass.  Image © Runzi Zhu
Lanxi Road Overpass. Image © Runzi Zhu
landscape under bridge.  Image © Runzi Zhu
landscape under bridge. Image © Runzi Zhu
activity space under the Shatian platform.  Image © Runzi Zhu
activity space under the Shatian platform. Image © Runzi Zhu

Color matching. We took a long time to match the colors, without a clear idea at first. We hoped it was soft and appropriate overall, while concerned that the simple silver or gray color could convey the energy of the communities. We tried over 10 color combination schemes and finally decided to keep the main structure silver gray and paint the inner sides orange, hoping the color comparison would convey a sense of vigor. We particularly considered the space under 1.4 meters high. The semi-basement, different from the light and open space on the ground floor, is dark and narrow. We chose the combination of silvery white and yellow for the dark to match it with the above ground locations. The silvery white color looks kind of like pearl, mixed with a lot of metal powder, apparently different from the silvery gray color painted on the structures above. We weighed the semi-basement experiment on color unity, a decision unlikely to be made by most architects. This challenge is unprecedented for us and requires breakthroughs.

south half-buried entrance and BOTTLE area.  Image © Runzi Zhu
south half-buried entrance and BOTTLE space. Image © Runzi Zhu

Arc Canopy: Reminiscent of railway platforms. We have consciously designed a series of lightly structured arched awnings, sunshade membranes. The membrane is not waterproof for two reasons: first, we encourage feeling nature in such a linear open park; second, technically the canopy would support more wind load if it were waterproof, rendering invalid the structural comparison of the lightness of the canopies and the heaviness of the Highline. The arched canopies are reminiscent of railway platforms through which traditional trains slowly stopped. There were many shapes of railway platforms, and we took one of the simplest and colored it in five different ways. With the same shape but changing colors, the light structures allow a clear zoning of the park. Blue here and pink in front, visitors can easily find their way through these arched canopies.

staircase and corridor canopy
staircase and corridor canopy
corridor on the outdoor stage.  Image © Runzi Zhu
corridor on the outdoor stage. Image © Runzi Zhu
end of the southern part covered with plants.  Image © Runzi Zhu
end of the southern part covered with plants. Image © Runzi Zhu

Wall as border and connection: to dialogue with communities and institutions. Our design team, in conjunction with the sub-district office, have had serious dialogues with each nearby residence. 11 residences and several public institutions surround Centennial Park. Establishing the boundary between the former and the latter actually required communications, through which we knew their requirements and problems, thus being able to connect in a better and more appropriate way. When designing the walls of Centennial Park, we came up with no less than 10 combinations of walls and gates. Some are block walls finished with washed stone, a steel structure that allows visual contact between the two sides of the border, and others are a combination of the above two. We proposed different programs to show respect to the community, in the hope that through discussion, with residents, we would co-create the connection between the park boundary and their residences. Some residents like block walls and no doors, while others prefer steel walls that allow park plants to grow in their residence. Therefore, the change of walls can be seen while walking along Centennial Park.

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