Baiyangdian Waterfront Park / TLS Landscape Architecture
Text description provided by the architects. The design of the Baiyangdian Waterfront Park is inspired by the original landscape pattern of ‘Lotus Pond-Reed Sea’, to interpret the past and to solve modern flooding and ecological problems with a series of eco-levees and a new public marina.’
Northern China is home to many vast shallow lakes; Baiyangdian, the site of the new city of Xiong’an is the largest one. A regional watershed with nine rivers feeds the lake which despite its size reaches a depth of only 3 meters at the center. The lake has always been fragile and is highly susceptible to agricultural pollution from surrounding farms and cycles of flood and drought now intensified by climate change. Normally the outputs of a new city of a million people would only make matters dramatically worse, but this project does the opposite.
Through a regional effort, the inputs from the watershed have been cleaned up and a complex series of planted levees of varying scales and locks regulates water levels. The runoff of the new city is extensively managed and recycled within its own systems before depositing only clean, fresh water into the lake. This new hydrologic stability now allows the lake to begin to clean its waters and sediment once more through the lush native reeds and lotus. This renews its importance as a major stop on the Asian Flyway and the lake and surrounding forests are home to tremendous and highly diverse species of birds as well as aquatic mammals and fish – the lake is again bursting with life.
The lake has a long cultural history and has been a source of community well-being through the harvests of fish, reeds, and lotus roots. People love boating within the maze of channels through the reeds and open water which has led to the construction of a new marina to serve the community’s desire for natural experiences and peaceful recreation. They love hiking, running, and cycling along the network of levees and embankments some of which extend far into the reeds and water. In this way, the recovered lake can become the key ecological amenity and open space of a new city without being destroyed by urbanization but in fact, improved and renewed by it.
The new Baiyangdian Waterfront Park was recently opened to the public including a series of reed-roofed pavilions full of exhibits and historical demonstrations. The surrounding landscape is a composition of ponds and bridges displaying the ecological dynamics and principal species to be found during one’s afternoon boat excursion. The eco-levee and marina project is the first open space / natural system project for Xiong’an, a powerful demonstration of new ecological priorities and the first principles of the new city.
Note: The Xiong-an urban design competition was won in 2018 by the team of SOM and TLS in partnership. Starting in 2019, TLS participated in designing the Baiyangdian Waterfront Area.