Suzhou is a major city in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River forming part of the Yangtze River Delta Region and on the shores of Tai Lake, the third largest lake in China.
Established over 2,500 years ago, Suzhou has a rich cultural heritage, expressed physically through the fine-grained urban form of the traditional settlements with their networks of ubiquitous canals. The city is internationally renowned for its historic gardens.
Over the past fifteen years Suzhou has expanded, at a remarkable rate, into include an entirely new 21 century metropolis within the Gusu District (Suzhou Industry Park) of high rise towers and grand boulevards.
As development forges west toward to borders of Tai Lake, large scale urban design projects are underway.
A select entry international design competition was held for the design of a waterfront city on the margins of Tai Lake. Tract Consultants in collaboration with Fender Katsilidis Architects and the landscape architectural division of the Suzhou Institute of Architectural Design prepared a submission entered in 2012.
The design approach was to integrate advanced urban design principles, into the strong local culture and natural environment to conceive a futuristic, sculptural city.
The final outcome presents an ideal & poetic Urban Centre, featuring:
- Retail, entertainment and service zones buried underground; they share an open-to-sky public space - a canyon like garden axis;
- Ground level forms a car free public realm. Library, exhibition hall and other public buildings float on top of it;
- Commercial podium and mix use high-rises enclose the whole space. Rich layers of rooftop green, park lands and valley green corridor, together paint a unique “Garden CBD”;
- Public open space, meanders into grid urban fabric to form a whole. Just like in old Suzhou city, organic form of garden space hides within the city grid.
- “Harbor City “has a structure of "necklace with four jewels". The necklace – "Tai Lake ring" is a Waterfront Landscape structure, which comprises five interlocking water theme rings: Lake, Bay, Harbor, Shallow and Pool. The four jewels are functional core areas: activity center, arts & cultural center, business center, and ecological center.
Two major components, "Garden CBD" (CBD core area & underground space) and "Harbor CBD" ( Waterfront Bay city), are connected by a Central Land-Water axis, which is defined by the landmark tower and civic harbor, and reinforced through the opening up of the ground plane, as well as the form of a river carving out the canyon of underground wonders. It links the points of attraction and provides an anchor to the overall master plan.