Hassell Studio was recently part of design team for a major design competition in Shanghai to transform a 21km stretch of waterfront on the Huangpu River. 

Hassell collaborated with TTT Architects in the international design competition commissioned by the East Bank Group and reached the final shortlist which also included projects from West 8, KCAP, Terrain Studio and Agence Ter.

The competition brief was to transform the east bank of the Huangpu River and unlock the city’s potential, creating world-class public places and improving access to the river’s edge.

Hassell’s submission was based on a concept to develop an urban forest along the river. The East Bank Urban Forest would be created by planting two million trees, one tree for each of Shanghai’s two million children. More than 50 local schools would be invited to participate in the creation and custodianship of the forest, within new outdoor classrooms and through tree-planting events.

This manmade forest would expand green space in the city centre by 25 per cent, improve air quality and energy efficiency, create new places to gather and celebrate, and actively support Shanghai’s aspiration to become a more sustainable, attractive and prosperous world city.

Visually, the forest on the east bank of the Huangpu River would create a stunning natural setting for a spectacular city skyline, becoming the new city identity to be featured in metro stations and at bus stops, and on television screens and t-shirts.

The forest would also be full of new destinations from dramatic event spaces on an international scale alongside sporting facilities for locals, to outdoor classrooms for the next generation, and spaces to relax with friends and family.

Design highlights of Hassell’s concept also included pathways for walking and cycling running the full 21 kilometres of the site; a system of walking loops to heighten the promenade experience, offering people a different perspective on the river and the city, and overcoming existing barriers such as waterways, ferry terminals and industrial sites; and a sequence of playful markers to guide people through the landscape, enlivening the waterfront with a range of community and commercial offerings, including an educational program, libraries, a cafe and sporting hubs.

Hassell has an office in Shanghai and has had success in Chinese design competitions in the past. In 2014 they were part of the winning consortium for a conceptual urban design competition for the Bao’an West Dynamic Coastal Zone in China. In 2009 they also competed in a competition to redevelop The Bund, in Shanghai, also located along the Huangpu River.