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2018 Awards

Research, Planning, Analysis and Communication

Award of Excellence

Miaojing River: From a Hidden Treasure to Ecological Infrastructure
Kunshan, Jiangsu, China
Plat Studio Inc.
Lead Landscape Architect: Fred Liao
Client: Kunshan City Construction Investment Development Group Co., Ltd.

The existing site conditions reveal a corridor that is rich in natural beauty and tranquil spaces. However, strict historical protection of the channel has resulted in an overgrown forest structure lacking in species diversity and accessibility.
In response to developing industry and the urbanization of its banks, the Miaojing River has transformed over time from an aqueduct transporting water to central Kunshan to a now untouched natural resource of green infrastructure.
Playgrounds that celebrate natural topography, raw materials, and family bicycle activities are proposed adjacent to
neighborhoods. These large open fields will be facilitated by play equipment as well as a flexible lawn area for picnics
and recreational programs for families.
A series of bird watching stations are designed to blend in within the forest by being concealed by vertical wooden panels. Visitors will be able to observe wildlife discreetly undercover without disturbing the surrounding habitat.
An iconic observation tower set in a wetland garden is proposed at the interface between the Miaojing River and Kuilei Lake, providing both an educational anchor and landmark for the park.
Expanding river channel banks cultivates wetland habitat through a series of eco-islands, fallen logs, perch trees and suitable wetland planting. Green infrastructure at the urban’s interface enhances water quality through bioswales and rain gardens.
Kunshan West is a developing region between the Kuilei Lake and Downtown. A variety of land-uses exist in this section of the city linked by a strong North-South axis of accessible amenities.
Kunshan West is a developing region between the Kuilei Lake and Downtown. A variety of land-uses exist in this section of the city linked by a strong North-South axis of accessible amenities.
Robust and rustic bridges create an identity for the green corridor and link the public to the heart of the park. Permeable asphalt paths through programmatic nodes in prairie areas provide flexible access to nature and foster engagement amongst visitors.
Elevated boardwalks and densely planted buffer zones perform as guided pathways to minimize the impact on the surrounding forest habitat. Protected platforms are positioned throughout the forest to allow birdwatching and wildlife observation with views over the waterfront wetland.
Forest restoration improves the species composition of the existing forest and
promotes the migration of animals and plants across landscape boundaries. Pilot
areas of regeneration aim to impact the surrounding environment, improving the
overall health of the eco-corridor.
Linking Kuilei Lake to Kunshan City Center, the river becomes a spine of ecological infrastructure
to grow with Kunshan West. An inner eco-corridor prioritizes green value flanked by two channels with well-integrated programmed spaces for surrounding neighborhoods.

A 20 minute commute to Shanghai, the suburb of Kunshan is evolving into a high-tech livable city in its own right. Traditionally a watertown, Kunshan’s culture is defined by its dependency on its waterways that support the central transportation and economy of the area through extensive canals, rivers and lakes.

A main artery of Kunshan’s water supply, the Miaojing River has historically served as the city’s main aqueduct, connecting the Kuilei Lake reservoir to the city center old town. Strict preservation of this channel has produced a large corridor of untouched ecological potential. With a recent transfer of the aqueduct into an expansive piping system, the Miaojing River has transitioned into new open space resource available for the city to experience.

This project aims to drive the green infrastructure development of Kunshan West with the Miaojing River as the central axis of abundant ecological value and recreational programs for surrounding communities. Anchoring the