Wuhan Optics Valley

Wuhan, China

Wuhan Optics Valley

City of Nature

The new city is organized by the existing natural systems and features that also provide its key amenities. These features include the varied topography and hills that define uplands, many of them covered with beautiful, lush forests. Many of these hills have been preserved to create a strong backbone to the open space system. The form of the topography directs the flow of rain water toward its end point at the lake. With the same idea, many of the existing streams and drainage ways have also been preserved and enhanced to create a dynamic water system capable of conveying and purifying large volumes of water and also storing it for visual, recreational, and irrigation uses throughout the open space system. The form of the open space is then completely structured in a topographic and riverine network that is a new approach in linking the citizens of the new city to each other and to the nature around them.

 

Downtown Core

The downtown core is home to the essential defining open space elements and amenities of the park system. The crescent is a powerful urban arc at the central hub of the city that creates a broad, tree shaded esplanade for activity overlooking a curving series of stepped ponds with wetlands and forested hills beyond. Weirs defining the water levels also provide locations to cross the water at each “water step”. The hills are threaded with trails and pathways leading to overlook belvederes, elevated pavilions and tea houses.

 

Mid-Town Hub

The mid-town hub is surrounded by the park system with three particular elements – the stadium plaza, the lotus park and the mountain park. The new stadium, east of the hub will have its entry featured at the southern gateway at the intersection of Gaoxin 4th road and Guanggu 5th roads. A major urban plaza forms the grand forecourt to the stadium and combines with the architecture to help make the ensemble a memorable landmark and point of orientation. Sweeping urban tree canopies encircle the stadium flanks and direct pedestrian movement to the mountain park to the north. West of the hub, the lotus park takes advantage of extensive water storage zones to create a broad expanse of aquatic environment full of lotus plantings, bridges, and small pavilions with small forested hills rising at the center. A key pedestrian retail corridor links the stadium plaza with the lotus park entry. This active linear connector would be lined with sophisticated low-scale retail shops, restaurants, and cafes providing a lively nighttime destination and place to promenade. The mountain park is a very substantial area of tall, forested topography that forms a solid backdrop to the stadium and helps anchor it to the site. In keeping with the active sport theme, the mountain park is traversed with a variety of trails for hiking, running, and mountain biking with broad vistas over the city.

 

Braided Fiber Strategy

The order of the natural system of topography and water flows leads to means of developing the open space system. The hills establish strong anchoring high points and the water flows establish the low points. In between lie flat valleys of varying widths for park use. Some of the uses are highly programmed and recreational and some are more agricultural or ecological in nature like meadows and wetlands. The essential geometry in use is “riverine”, meaning dictated or informed by braided water flows. The “braiding” of paths and uses allows flexibility and resonates with the fluid geometries of meandering streams and ponds as they undulate between the hills.

 

Eco Corridor

The eco corridor highlights a broad landscape corridor flowing toward the lake that creates the western edge of the new city. This zone contains numerous forested plateaus and high points with valleys flowing between them with abundant streams, ponds, and some larger lakes. Due to its breadth, it can support larger natural systems including wetlands, and farms, as well as major sports fields and other more specialized programmed uses. The largest trail complex on the site is threaded through the constantly evolving landscape “rooms” formed by crossing roadways.

 

Designing the Water

A great deal of water flows in seasonal streams through the new city on its way to the lake. To make water more available for residents to enjoy as well as use for irrigation supply and natural wetland system development, weirs (small check dams) are proposed to detain water on the sloping site. As the topography varies, the response to water design also varies. In areas like the downtown crescent, gradients are flatter and it is possible to provide what is essentially a continuous “stepped” lake, with weirs providing convenient pedestrian crossing points. Where the gradient steepens, it will be less desirable to continuously step the water. Instead, the streams would be retained in their natural flowing state with periodic weirs to create ponds and wetlands as stopping points.

Collaborator

SOM

Size

3,000 acres

Client

City of Wuhan