February 26, 2015
Janice Morton

Ni hao!  As many of my previous HKS Xchange visitors to Shanghai have so aptly described the sites and sounds of this city, I wanted to explore a relatively new part of the Shanghai landscape, its parks.  Being an avid walker I've been able to wander through many of these wonderful spaces and wanted to share some of what I've seen and learned. 

First of all a little history.  One of the key components of the General Shanghai Development Plan of 1995 & 2001 was to improve public open-space standards.  The desire was to create an extensive park system which would increase the park space of square meters per person from 0.7 to 3.0.  This was combined with goals to celebrate cultural artifacts, major infrastructure improvements, and urban reforestation.  Seeing as these efforts have only been in force for 20 years, let's look at some of the results. 

First up, Gucheng Park.  Opened in 2002 at the east end of Renmin Road, this park serves as a connection between the south Bund and Huangpu River and the Shanghai Old Town. 


One thing you need to know about parks in China is that you are not allowed on the grass.  And not just you.  Nobody is.  That's just how it is, don't ask me to explain it.  The lawn is for looking, not touching.  Set one toe out and you'll have the whistle blown and be quickly waved off by the ranger / comrade assigned to that section of park.  So just get used to it. 

Now, aside from that, one pleasing aspect of Chinese parks is how many of them are segmented.  Many of us in the U.S. tend to see parks as a large grassy area with trees and benches at the perimeter.  In China, this division into separate areas has the lovely effect that no matter how small the park, it seems bigger for having these separate areas.  Gucheng Park is fairly small.  Below you can see a large area where local families gather and their children were able to run and skate, enjoying the out doors.  Keep in mind that in all of these photos the temperature is a balmy 45 degrees. 


 In the open green area a feral park cat is enjoying his domain.


An elevated pathway leads to overlook the larger grassy area at the northeast section of the park.


Looking down on the other side of the overlook is a winding walking path encouraging slow meandering.


 Other paths lead through a bamboo forest.


One path leads down past the necessary park facilities on the right.


And finally you come to a relaxing patio where you can buy a refreshment and relax or maybe play a game of cards with your neighbors.


All found on 3.88 hectares adjacent to the famous Bund, Old Town, and Yu Gardens.  These many small parts add up to more than their sum as they provide a connection to nature and a respite from this busy city for its residents to relax and connect.

Next up, Changshou Park!

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Posted in All Markets
Tagged HKS Architects, Xchange