Sydney-based architecture and urban design firm Stewart Hollenstein have unveiled a scheme to transform the North Bund (lower Hongkou) region of Shanghai. Centered around a 2.7 kilometer stretch of Changzhi Road parallel to the Huangpu River waterfront, the project proposes the creation of a new “People’s Avenue,” reclaiming the street for pedestrian use and providing a framework for the development of the district and the city at large. The plan calls for the design of a new market hall, city library, theater, community center and two museums, helping to establish a new “Cultural Spine” for Hongkou.
Central to the design is the redevelopment of the existing avenue. While current plans call for a widening of the street to accommodate a 10-lane highway, Stewart Hollenstein proposes instead that the road be gradually phased into a multi-modal artery, giving priority to pedestrian occupation. The new avenue will be lined with a continuous active edge featuring shops and restaurants to connect a series of larger public spaces, establishing a new identity for the streetscape and promoting a cleaner, healthier city.
“The vision for the ‘People’s Avenue’ is one that starts at the scale of the citizen and uses this viewpoint to transform the entire North Bund,” says Stewart Hollenstein Director Matthias Hollenstein. “The ‘People’s Avenue’ forms the backbone to a public domain network designed to be generous, vibrant and integrated with the existing heritage fabric and future cultural and commercial developments.”
Stewart Hollenstein’s scheme flips the typical pattern of construction in Shanghai by establishing public areas first, then framing the space with development. At the artery’s western end, existing buildings are razed to make room for a covered marketplace; at the eastern end, Shanghai’s Jewish Quarter is revitalized with the addition of a new community center and children’s museum. In between, public plazas are created in front of a new theater and art gallery and along the Hongkou Canal.
“With the development of many sites in the study area already underway, our proposal presents a new strategy where development and a well-defined public realm support one another,” explains Stewart Hollenstein Director Felicity Stewart. “This is not a pattern we are currently seeing in Hongkou District where development has little relationship with the street and is designed on a block by block basis rather than supporting street life.”
The design proposal will be presented by Felicity Stewart and Matthias Hollenstein at the China Australian Urban Forum on June 29th 2016 in Shanghai. The forum was envisioned as an opportunity for experts from China and Australia to discuss potential futures for Shanghai with the purpose of addressing issues such as liveability, sustainability, infrastructure and preservation.