Unused airports present some of the most exciting redevelopment projects around the world, and in the heart of Hefei is the decommissioned Luogang Airport, which up until recently served as Anhui Province’s main airport before being relocated to a new site. HASSELL was invited to compete in the master planning and landscape design competition to repurpose this unique space into Hefei’s Central Park without losing the connection to its past. Our scheme was one of the two awarded for the park.
A nature park infused in the urban environment
New urban development in Hefei has to date not focused on natural systems, and has at times even damaged it. When the city experiences extreme weather, which it does often, this hugely impacts the liveability of urban spaces. So our overarching principle was to envision a central park that would be beneficial to people’s everyday lives, where urban spaces blend with natural systems to enable sustainable development and liveability in the city, and the wellbeing of Hefei’s people.
Four visions underpinning the park’s identity
We proposed a series of visions for this future gateway precinct of Hefei and urban centre of activity, located between the old town and Hubin new area and creating a ‘city living room’.
Our design is rooted in and celebrates the existing site status and its history by retaining the original airport runway and Luzhou Avenue that sparks people’s memory of the old city.
An innovation and ecology park in one part of Hefei Central Park would form an urban gateway to the city, thanks to the surrounding innovative high-tech land use and the intercity rail station linking the park entrance plaza, and the park’s proximity to the sub-CBD transport hub.
We want Hefei Central Park to be an adaptable place for the future, making it a sustainable urban space with countless possibilities. The aviation sports plaza, event tarmac and memory lane create activity spaces for residents and visitors as well as conditions for world class events and festivals. And by turning the site into a connected eco-habitat, it becomes an extension of the regional eco context and blue and green infrastructure.
Distinct experiences and destinations
As part of the detailed design of the masterplan, our team imagined four distinct journeys that visitors to the park could experience, and a host of destinations and moments that would punctuate these journeys.
The memory journey is inspired by the history of the site, focusing on the local features that give the park its own unique identity compared to other parks.
Hefei is a city with many lakes and waterways that are integral to its context, and so the water journey forms another part of the Central Park. Our scheme includes creating waterfront access to the river and lake within the park and purifying the water system to enable high quality water.
The nature journey consolidates the current ecosystem while allowing more diversified species to thrive within the park. Our scheme builds a closer connection with the broader urban eco-corridor creating opportunities for people to enjoy and engage with nature just steps away from Hefei’s downtown area. Poplar forests, cleansing wetlands and increased water storage are just some of the features we incorporated into our scheme.
With flexible spaces around the park set for future development and the creation of more public urban space, the park also enables an urban journey with functions for daily living, working and innovation.
Hefei Central Park is designed to preserve the memory of historical times and enable a strong connection between people and the site context; an eco-habitat for people to engage more with nature. At the same time, our scheme creates adaptive spaces for urban development and helping Hefei to become a true global gateway.