In the latest example of the world’s most reliably successful revitalization strategy—the 3Re Strategy (repurpose, renew, reconnect)—the city of Xuhui, China has repurposed and renewed a defunct airport’s old runway into a linear park that reconnects and revitalizes a key section of the city.
Formerly a runway for Longhua Airport, the park’s design scheme mimics the motion of a runway, creating diverse linear spaces for vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians by organizing the park and the street into one integrated runway system.
In this way, the park serves as a runway of modern life, providing a space for recreation and respite from the surrounding city.
For the Runway Park, it was imperative to create a design that transcended time and space, bringing a piece of the site’s past into the modern fabric of the city. The design preserves portions of the runway’s original concrete where feasible, including the reuse of broken concrete pieces to build paths, plazas, and resting areas.
The street layout creates a compact urban district by limiting the width of vehicular travel lanes and promoting public transit over the use of passenger cars.
Additionally, six rows of deciduous streets trees are planted along sidewalk, bicycle lanes and vehicular median, creating a comfortable microclimate, seasonal effect and human-scaled boulevard. Sunken gardens are sited between the park’s subway station and neighboring development parcels, improving the walking experience to and from the subway while enriching the spatial composition of the park.
Diverse wildlife habitats are integrated with various landscape programs, with 100% plant species native to the Yangtze Delta. These habitats include both land and marine typologies. A bird watching garden, fruit tree groves, and various garden types define the land. A wetland edge, bioengineered riparian edge, and a floating wetland module make up the marine forms.
The historic aerodynamic and industrial sensibility of the site is referenced through the use of lighting poles that recall the transmission of communication and airfield illumination of the airport. In-ground lines and dots of light outline the former runway and will serve as a signature visual element for the park.
Lit handrails, benches, shade structures, and elevated pathways will, along with the environmental graphics package, provide a visual boundary for the current planned usage. All lighting is refrained from the habitat area and nocturnal life.
The stormwater from Yunjin Road and the park is managed through the 5,760-square-meter rain garden and 8,107-square-meter constructed wetland along the road. It will be the first roadside rain garden system to be built in the city of Shanghai.
While runoff from the northern half of the site passes through the integrated rain gardens before discharging into the drainage canal, the southern half of the site will drain through a series of filtering wetland edges.
The combination of open forebay channels to slow velocities and planted wetland ledges help reduce suspended sediments and pollutants from the street runoff. All site runoff eventually reaches the Jichang Canal—draining to the Huangpu River.
Xuhui Runway Park kicked off in 2016 and two segments were recently completed, from Longlan Road to Fenggu Road, and from Longyao Road to South Langshui Road. They are now open to the public, and have been embraced by the district’s residents as a new social space for the community.
All images are courtesy of Sasaki.