Before COVID-19 had the unexpected consequence of improving global air quality by reducing car, plane and other traffic worldwide, many of China’s urban centres struggled with serious air pollution, a scourge that civic authorities there have tried to counter by investing in health-enhancing infrastructure.
One such project — the Jiangyin Greenway in the Yangtze River port city of the same name — is intended to knit together a quartet of existing green zones via a walkable raised loop comprised of four “clearly identifiable segments.” The northern segment, which was realized first, passes through Jiangyin’s docklands parks.
The segment shown here — the eastern part of the loop — meanders to the river and was finished late last year.
As envisioned by its designers — a team from the Australian–Chinese practice BAU, which has offices in Melbourne and Shanghai — this amenity-studded, 4,500-metre-long stretch is “more than just an elevated walkway.” Its twisting form, BAU explains, is essentially a “scaled model” of the Yangtze itself, “with the cities and tributaries along its length becoming plazas and balconies” on the greenway.
The sinuous design also contrasts dynamically with the linear north–south park it traverses — a plot of land that, despite providing much-needed green space, also became “a frustrating barrier to east–west circulation.” Now, however, BAU’s intervention not only floats dramatically above the park (up to 6.6 metres at its tallest point), but “stitches” itself to its setting through a variety of stairs and ramps, providing new shortcuts, making the park safer and significantly animating the older facility.
But the greenway is a destination as much as a corridor. Made of prefab steel and surfaced with a rosy-toned bituminous concrete screed, the structure incorporates, among other attractions, an amphitheatre for watching performances or just relaxing, a raised plaza containing “permanent sound instruments” that all are welcome to play and a string of viewing platforms for taking in lakes and canals.
Arbours awaiting swathes of greenery and a succession of vibrantly coloured truss and suspension bridges also punctuate its path, while sound walls block noise from a nearby freeway to ensure that visitors enjoy it all peacefully.
“Infrastructure of this scale has a responsibility,” says BAU, “to create meaningful places in the city.” On this front, its greenway addition more than delivers, placing Jiangyin on the path — literally — to a greener future.
In the Yangtze River city of Jiangyin, this snaking raised “greenway” by BAU connects disparate parks across the city.