This 126-acre urban park, situated within the Yangtze River floodplain and framed by linear canals and roads, is dominated by a designed lake that regulates storm water, provides wildlife habitat, and offers recreational opportunities. Once a natural wetland, the property was developed as a fish farm and used as a dump site for coal ash produced by nearby power plants. In 2017 and 2018 Kongjian Yu of Turenscape transformed the blighted site into a flood-resilient, urban refuge, punctuated with numerous vegetated islets that Yu refers to as “floating forests.”.
Inspired by Mesoamerican chinampas, or “floating gardens,” the small landforms were created by combining discarded coal ash with soil taken from remnant dykes found on site. The islets are planted with native, water-tolerant tree species, including bald cypress and dawn redwood, as well as perennial and annual wetland plants. The trees offer dense, verdant cover in the spring and summer, and turn a vibrant orange in the autumn. A network of low flood-resilient boardwalks connect the islets, leading visitors though sheltered canopies to concrete platforms nestled along the edge of select islets. Several of the platforms feature simple aluminum pavilions and benches, affording visitors expansive views of the park and the city beyond.
A gracefully arched bridge spans two groups of islets, providing connectivity and serving as a visual focal element. Curvilinear paths follow the park’s periphery, connecting the park’s eastern and western waterfronts, which feature beaches, fountains, lawns, and terraced wetlands designed to filter urban runoff. Covered, elevated walkways extend over the water, providing the opportunity to observe wildlife and lakeshore vistas. At the park’s main entrance, situated at its southwest corner, a cafeteria is accessible via an overpass, which also connects to Aixi Lake Park to the south.