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SHUISHI: Bring the river back to life, Enjoy the slow river, slow traffic, and slow time.



01 项目背景 Project background

水岸景观要提升,河道养护需加强 Waterfront landscape needs to be improved, river maintenance needs to be strengthened


Located in the old town of Tonghua County, Jilin Province, Wulacaogou River was named for the Wula grass growing in the river. It is an urban flood discharge waterway flowing through the county seat. Due to years of disrepair, there lacks greening on both sides of the river, and sedimentation is serious in the river channel. The main water source is the snow and ice melt water and the mountain catchment in the Changbai Mountain veins. The normal water level is less than 10cm in depth, which is easy to dry up in autumn, but is about 3 meters deep during the flood. The difference in water level is very large, and the ecosystem is very unstable.


▽改造前的河道街景 River street scene before the renovation



The current river has hard revetments, and there are several exposed pipelines above the river, which affects the urban landscape effect. Residential areas, businesses and schools on both sides of the river are distributed in three sections, and separated by two municipal roads, resulting in an obvious sense of separation in the urban area. There are many intersections between people and vehicles on the traffic lines around the river, posing great safety risks. Regarding the current vegetation of the river, the dry willows in the middle section grow well and can be retained for use. The Wulacaogou River mainly serves as a functional spillway channel, which has not played the landscape, entertainment and leisure functions of an urban river.


▽改造前的河道剖面 River section before the renovation


02 设计策略 Design strategy

实施三大策略,让河道重新回归生活 Implement three strategies to bring the river back to life


The core design idea of the project is to bring the river back to life, letting the people to enjoy the slow traffic, slow river, and slow time. The design breaks the original pattern of the spillway separating the city, and integrates the river flood discharge function with the urban slow traffic system. The renovation not only makes full use of the continuous melting water of snow and ice in the original ecology of Changbai Mountain, but also organically connect the mountains, water, city and people. The design fully considers the surrounding status quo and business forms. While opening up the river channel, it provides a cultural place for popular science education for citizens and students, becoming a stage to show the vitality of the city, and a dynamic green space for residents to enjoy the water.


▽总平面图 General layout

▽设计语言 Design language

▽改造后的河道剖面 Modified river section


策略一慢河:自然与重塑 Strategy I Slow river: Nature and remodeling


In the slow river part, the design first breaks the original pattern that the flood way divided the city, and widens the 6m river section to about 6-18m. By slowing the flow of water, it enables citizens to interact with the water better and safer. Secondly, by changing the section of the river, it turns the original vertical revetment into a stepped water-friendly revetment, and designs stepping stones on water surface and swell dams in the river to reduce the daily water flow speed on the premise of ensuring the flood discharge function.


▽道路改造分析图 Road reconstruction analysis diagram

▽降低水流速,使人更安全的与水互动 Reduce water velocity to make it safer for people to interact with the water



The water is mainly purified with Wula grass. The design turns the hard revetment into a soft one, and restores the ecological environment of the Wulacaogou River, and provide a waterfront environment for the public to enjoy and play. At the same time, it replants aquatic plants in the river, and lays volcanic rocks and pebbles at the bottom to increase the self-purification function of the river.


▽恢复乌拉草沟河的生态环境 Restore the ecological environment of the Wulacaogou River


策略二慢行 :绿道与连接 Strategy II Slow traffic: Greenway and connection


In the greenway and connection part, the landscape and municipal majors launch joint studies to change the original pattern that the municipal lanes are distributed on both sides of the river, and put the vehicle lanes on one side of the river or make partial diversion, so as to separate people and vehicles, return the road space to the citizens, and increase the water-access experience, to slow people down. It strengthens the connection between the river and the surrounding buildings and shops, forms a complete environmental landscape interface, to build an accessible public landscape space with no security risks for the convenience of the people.


▽绿道横向与纵向的连接 Horizontal and vertical connection of greenways

▽利用人行桥体系进行场地之间的连接 Connect the sites with the pedestrian overpass system



The slow traffic system applies the pedestrian overpasses to link public greenways divided by municipal roads to ensure the integrity and safety of the slow traffic in the 2.4 km greenway system along the river that runs through the central axis. The riverway is designed to have two layers of slow traffic system. The waterfront road is used by the public to enjoy the water, which can be inundated during flood. The jogging track at the top of the embankment is connected to the trestle bridge for the daily traffic of the citizens.


▽慢跑道联通栈桥 The jogging track is connected to the trestle bridges.


策略三:慢时光-文化与活力 Strategy III: Slow time Culture and vitality


Through shaping the greenway system and widening the river, we finally present a pleasant waterfront vitality and cultural space, awaken the connection between the river and the city, and connect the dialogue between man and nature.


▽滨水活动空间的分段处理 The segmented treatment of waterfront activity space

▽通过河道的拓宽,呈现丰富的滨水空间 The widening of the river presents a rich waterfront space



The river planning and design integrates urban greenway, cultural display, children’s entertainment, citizen leisure, ecological science popularization and other functions to form a segmented positioning, corresponding to the presentation of different themes and contents, while connecting scenic spots and shops on both sides of the river. It really makes the river return to the life of citizens, enabling them to enjoy the slow time of Tonghua.


▽通化记忆文化展示墙 Tonghua memory culture display wall

▽儿童友好攀爬区 Child-friendly climbing area

▽尽享亲水戏水、回归自然之趣 Enjoy the fun of water splashing, returning to nature

▽拉进河道与商铺的距离 Close the distance between the river and the shops


03 应对难点 Dealing with difficulties

有效解决问题,激发河道活力 Effectively solve problems and stimulate river vitality

为应对气候性考虑 Deal with climate considerations


Tonghua has a long cold period in winter, with obvious freeze-heaving reaction of the riverbank. In order to avoid the damage of the revetments, natural freeze-heave resistant materials are mainly selected. The foundation of the project is buried under the frozen soil layer, and the surface stones are installed by way of hanging and pasting to reduce the frost heaving reaction.



为应对季节性水位变化考虑 Deal with seasonal water level changes


The water source of the Wulacaogou River is mainly meltwater of snow and ice and the catchment of mountains, so the water level changes seasonally, often drying up in autumn and flooding in spring and summer. In the design, the flood dam and water crossing steps are arranged in the river course to increase the constant water level height and improve the river view, while the flood discharge capacity of the river course is elevated by using the revetment. On the human traffic line, the double-layer footpath system is designed to meet the needs of slow walking under the change of water level.



04 治理成效 Management results

河道焕然一新,居民休闲好去处 The river takes on a new look, and residents have a good place to relax


After the renovation, the Wulacaogou River takes on a new look, which not only improves the appearance of the city, but also enhances the taste of exquisite urban construction. Deeply loved by residents, it greatly improves the comfort and happiness of citizens’ lives, and has once become a place for walking and playing with children and frequented by Internet celebrities. During important festivals, Tonghua County will also organize activities such as catching loach, releasing water lanterns, and launching outdoor movie screenings to enrich residents’ entertainment life and stimulate the vitality of surrounding businesses. The completion of the project not only improves the water purification function of the river itself, but also turns the river, which only had the function of flood drainage in the past, into a back garden of Tonghua citizens integrating the functions of recreation, natural ecology, science popularization and education.


▽乌拉草沟河居民活动场景 Wulacaogou River resident activity scene ©宏博广告



设计团队:景观事业二部 (方案)、景观事业四部 (施工图)

Project Name: Comprehensive renovation of Wulacaogou River in Tonghua County
Project location: Kuaidamao Town, Tonghua County, Tonghua City, Jilin Province
Project scale: 52180㎡
Design Time: March 2021
Completion time: January 2022
Client: Tonghua County Housing and Urban Rural Development Bureau
Design unit: SHUISHI
Design content: Scheme, Construction Drawing
Design team: SHUISHI Landscape Design Department II , Landscape Department Ⅳ
Photographer: Li Kuan




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