Located in the heart of Jinhua City in central Zhejiang province in eastern China, is a natural riparian wetland where the Wuyi River and Yiwu River converge to form Jinhua River. This 64-acres wetland called Yanweizhou, meaning “the sparrow tail”, had remained underdeveloped for years until it became the center for cultural activities featuring a concert hall and green spaces. The problem though was that these spaces were underutilized because of the location’s poor accessibility. In addition, most of the wetland was fragmented and damaged by sand quarrying. The existing wetland is covered with secondary growth dominated by poplar trees and Chinese Wingnut that provide habitat for native birds like egrets.
Yanweizhou is now the location of an environment-friendly park achieved through meandering vegetated terraces, curvilinear paths, a serpentine bridge, circular bio-swales and planting beds, and curved benches. The project has given the city a new identity and is now acclaimed as its most poetic landscape.
The centerpiece of the park is the pedestrian footbridge that snakes across the rivers linking various parks along the riverbanks in both the southern and northern city districts. The bridge starts at nearby Jinlongwan Park and crosses over the Wuyi River and Yanweizhou Park, then over the Yiwu River before ending in nearby Wuzhou Park. The bridge not only connects the three parks, but also the people of the city that are separated by the rivers.
"A rainbow bridge that flies above the wetland park acts as an access into the designed wetland," said the architects, "and as a linkage that invites the ever busy residents to 'slowdown' their pace to enjoy the everyday landscape surrounding the city, the beauty of which has been forgotten and misused over the past decades."
The landscape architects also convinced the city to tear down the concrete walls that had been erected along the riparian flood plains to protect it from the annual flood. Instead, the architects chose to “makes friends” with flooding by using a cut-and-fill strategy to balance earthwork and by creating a water-resilient terraced river embankment that is covered with flood adapted native vegetation. Instead of an elevated dry park that would destroy the lush and dynamic wetland ecosystem, floodable pedestrian paths and pavilions were built which will be closed to the public during the short period of flooding.
After the park opened in May 2014, an average of 40,000 visitors used the park and the bridge each day. The park recently won the World Landscape of the Year prize in the World Architecture Festival 2015.
All photographs courtesy of Turenscape
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