Forest Park is a community open space and a major green infrastructure resource for Kunshan, a former agricultural area and exurb of Shanghai, China. 163 hectares of forested wetland form a green island within the rapidly urbanized Kunshan West District.
Before intervention, the park had been inaccessible from the West and required strategic planning to address accessibility, ecological, and programmatic challenges. This West Entry now acts as a gateway into a network of boardwalks and bike trails that weave through both active and passive recreational amenities. The introduction of a varied plant palette improves the biodiversity of the site and provides the district with an effective stormwater runoff treatment system.
Working with hydrologists and local officials, the design prioritizes accessibility, recreational amenities, ecological health and place-making. While linking to the larger regional park, it retains a distinct identity. The spaces and furniture are scaled to impart a neighborhood feeling throughout. By creating a bold and warm identity which follows from the entry plaza through the loop trail, visitors are guided through the site.
The identity lends itself to accessibility and recreational amenities, defining a sense of place and specificity throughout. The plant palette is instrumental to this consistency and variation by defining the habitat zones and embracing every season. Hosting a myriad of programs, from crawdad catching to tai chi, children and elderly can easily engage with their peers throughout the year. By integrating with local water infrastructure, the site is relevant to the community on multiple levels. These features all come together to not only attract neighbors but also draw in regional visitors.
Today, Forest Park provides the community with access to nature, gathering places, public space amenities, habitat restoration and vital runoff infrastructure to ensure a healthy and thriving district well into the future.