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AECOM: Located in the eastern part of the Guangzhou’s Huangpu District, the 24.12-kilometer long Nangang River is a river with typical Lingan ecology. It originates from the mountainous habitat of the Muqiang Reservoir in the north, passing through the core area of Huangpu, and flowing into the Pearl River in the south.


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《红花绿草》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “Red Flowers and Green Grass”




A response to the “Happy Rivers and Lakes” national initiative, this project aims to transform Nangang River, the only pilot river project in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and establish it as an example for innovative water management models. The project, which is in a highly urbanized area, is fully supported by the Water Affairs Bureau of Guangzhou Municipality, Financial Investment and Construction Project Management Center of Guangzhou Development District, and Guangzhou Huangpu District Water Facilities Management Institute, in collaboration with partners including Guangzhou Water Planning, Survey, Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd., Guangdong Hongwei Ecological Planning and Design Institute Co., Ltd., and the Pearl River Hydraulic Research Institute.


▽南岗河畔 Nangang River




As the designer of the key demonstration section of the project (Yongshun Avenue to Lihong Second Road), AECOM adopted “Four Happy Strategies” as the overall design approach. By focusing on ecological restoration and biodiversity enhancement, we integrated nature-based solutions (NbS) and highlighted distinctive landscape features of Lingnan throughout the project. The river is expected to become a “Happy River” that embodies the unique essence of Lingnan.


▽项目原貌 Project original appearance



幸福四计 Four Strategies For a ‘Happy River’

1. 生态筑底 Ecology as the foundation


During the project initiation phase, the AECOM team coordinated and worked across practices including ecological, planning, landscape, and hydraulic works. By using comprehensive research methods such as macro watershed studies, on-site surveys, and ecosystem building, the team studied the natural ecological patterns of Nangang River ‒ “mountains, water, forests, fields, and gardens.” Based on the “natural law of food chain,” the team identified four major ecological segments and twelve core target species. Using low-intervention habitat design methods, the team created 24 resilient and diverse habitat areas, including sandbars, river valley beaches, farmland wetlands and waterside forests. These enhancements improved water quality and conditions for biological reproduction, establishing a strong connection between local species and indigenous habitat, and creating an ecological landscape of “clear water, green shores, birdsong, and fragrant flowers.”


▽项目原貌 Original appearance


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《精心绿化护理》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “Careful Green Care”



经过系统治理,南岗河流域水质有了显著改善,生物多样性逐步恢复。 白鹇、褐翅鸦鹃、黑翅鸢等国家II级重点保护物种在此流连忘返,成为名副其实的“鸟类天堂”;特有物种麦穗鱼回归,南方波鱼和拟细鲫等对水质要求较高的鱼类也时有重现。 如今的南岗河水清岸绿、白鹭栖息、鱼翔浅底,一片生机盎然。

Through systematic treatment, water quality in the Nangang River basin significantly improved, and biodiversity gradually recovered. Many Class-II protected species such as silver pheasant, greater coucal, and black-winged kite are now frequently seen in the area, making it a true “bird paradise.” Indigenous species like the stone moroko have returned, and fish species that require high water quality to survive, such as the chineserasbora and the aphyocypris normalis, are also making a comeback. Today, the Nangang River features clear water, green shores, herons nesting, and swimming fishes, creating a vibrant and lively environment.


▽项目原貌 Original appearance


▽生机盎然的河畔景观 Vibrant riverside landscape


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《河岸春色》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “Spring on the River Bank”



2. 科技牵引 Technology as an enabler


The design leveraged a “four predictions” scheduling platform, which uses digital twin technology for flood prevention and drainage, based on flood control, river dam improvement, and reservoir construction. This system could coordinate and use intelligent tools to make decisions for reservoirs, dams, and pumps under different hydrological conditions. With the real-time flood and waterlogging risk map of Huangpu District available, the intelligent scheduling system achieves automatic monitoring, comprehensive management, and hydraulic regulation, enhancing the defense capabilities against extreme weather. The area that lies in the South of Xiangxue Avenue, was transformed into a sponge wetland that can be used as a popular science exhibition. To achieve that, the team reused treated wastewater from the midstream water purification plant to replenish the site and created a series of purification processes. Overall, the team combined natural restoration with low-carbon technology to transform the space into an ecological sponge system, and create a “Twin Nangang River” to help build a low-carbon and green resilient city.


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《南岗河活水湿地公园》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “Nangang River Living Water Wetland Park”




As an important waterfront green belt in the eastern innovation zone, the current Nangang River riverbanks, with its high-quality water resources and healthy living environment, attract numerous individual talents. The basin is home to approximately 1,300 large and medium-sized enterprises, and eight national-level innovation industrial parks, including the Huangpu Laboratory. The area has attracted 111 academicians and gathered 1,260 high-level talents, ranking first in the city. It is the most vibrant science and technology innovation zone in the east of Guangzhou, supporting the technological “backbone” of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The project team seamlessly integrated and placed interactive science and technology exhibition boxes along the banks, echoing the atmosphere of science and technology, and showcasing the history and achievements of government-enterprise collaboration.


▽项目原貌 Original appearance


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《雨后南岗河》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “Nangang River After Rain”



3.活力触媒 Vitality as a catalyst



By creating an interconnected greenway system and coordinating “land-river-water” corridors, the team turned the riverside into an accessible space for citizens of all ages, and an area for various activities such as viewing, leisure, fitness, entertainment, and science education, all of which complements the city function.

The original space under the elevated bridge on the left riverbank was relatively enclosed, dimly lit, and inconvenient for passage, with low visibility and utilization. After the transformation, this space was revitalized into the Nangang River Joyful Park, covering a total area of 12,000 square meters. The park was divided into four parts: children’s activity area, fitness activity area, comprehensive services area, and ball game activity area. The facilities are well-equipped, making it an exemplary example for utilizing under-bridge space in Huangpu District and a new model for a city park.


▽项目原貌 Original appearance


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《南岗河悦动公园》组图 Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “Nangang Sport Park” Group photo




Currently, the area along Nangang River are primarily residential lots, with some spaces supporting science and education and commercial-residential use. Nestled against the mountains and facing the water, it offers a livable and enjoyable environment for approximately 433,000 people, accounting for 34% of the total population of Huangpu District. The flourishing development of the city, industrial growth and transformation, and life satisfaction are the best evidence of the effectiveness of environmental management of the Nangang River. It is also a true reflection of the importance of the river in the economic development of Huangpu District.


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《假日休闲好去处》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “Holiday Leisure Place”


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《河边乐》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition”The Joy of Riverside Frolics”



4. 文化点睛 Lingnan culture as a finishing touch


The Shuixi and Shuidong villages in the Nangang River basin have a history of over six hundred years. These ancient villages thrive by the water and its residents live by groups, which is typical in Lingnan. The design fully explores the rural culture of the Nangang River by highlighting the tourism landmarks such as Luogang Xiangxue and Yuyan Academy, and leveraging resources such as the Maritime Silk Road and dragon boat culture. It also combines the modern spirit of ecological protection and technological innovation to make Nangang River a unique cultural and tourism experience.


▽项目原貌 Original appearance


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《阡陌交通》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “Buildings and Roads”


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《艺术花田》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition”Art Flower Field”




The riverside space adopts an integrated approach, using a consistent design language and core storytelling for the design of the pedestrian bridges, street furniture, signage systems, lighting, and other elements throughout the entire 24-kilometer watershed.


▽寓教于乐的导视系统 Edutainment Guide system


▽桥梁步道 Bridge Walkway


▽石趣长凳 Stone Bench



共建共享 全民参与 Built and shared by the community


Throughout the transformation of the Nangang River into one of the “Happy Rivers and Lakes” in the land, the team consistently adhered to an inclusive and open-minded approach. Through the model of “joint managed by departments, joint building by enterprises, and shared by the community,” the government, enterprises, and citizens are able to participate together in water management. The team has organized multiple public participation workshops, where residents and stakeholders discussed design proposals and construction models. They also held the “Happy Nangang River” photography competition, encouraging citizens to share their stories about “Me and the Nangang River,” enhancing public engagement.


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《南岗河醉美春天》组图 Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “The Beautiful Spring Scenery Along Nangang River” group photo


▽摄影比赛优秀作品《南岗河新貌》Outstanding Work in the Photography Competition “New Look of Nangang River”



结尾 Conclusion



With the revitalized “Happy Nangang River,” the community by the river now seamlessly connects to the ecological waterfront, achieving harmony between people and water.

Wu Kun, the project leader and AECOM’s Executive Director of Landscape, stated that, “Thanks to the coherent efforts of all parties and the active participation of citizens, we are delighted to see that the transformed Nangang River has become an ecological and happy river in the heart of the city, setting a new model for the management of small watersheds in large cities. To revitalize the negative space, and integrate the natural river into urban life, we fully consider ecological protection and landscape design, allowing citizens to experience happiness at their doorstep. This is also our mission as designers.”


▽南岗河河中汀步 Steps over water








Project name: Nangang River Natural Habitat Restoration and Waterfront Space Quality Improvement
Project type: Landscape / Waterfront Public Space
Design: AECOM
Website: www.aecom.com/cn
Contact e-mail: MarCom_CN.Service@aecom.com
Design year: 2022-2023
Completion Year: 2024
Leader designer & Team: Kun Wu, Phyllics Lun, Gongyu Yang, Gongchuo Huang, Qijie Huang, Huina Liu, Sen Lei, Yiye You, Nie Yu, Zhiqing Zhang, Yuqing Zheng, Kaiming Xu, Junchi Zhang, Kunyan Wu, Siyuan Luo, Yuxian Li, Li Liang, Wenxiang Yu, Shihe Li, Zhiyan Zhang
Project location: Huangpu District, Guangzhou
Landscape area (hectares): 60 square hectares

Water Affairs Bureau of Guangzhou Municipality Huangpu District
Financial Investment and Construction Project Management Center of Guangzhou Development District
Guangzhou Huangpu District Water Facilities Management Institute

Photo credit:
Zelin Yao, Phyllics Lun, Liqiang Mo, Yuqin Zheng, Bozhao Wu, Weiping Wu, Zhiyuan Liao, Bingjian Ou, Hanbiao Li, Yinyan Li, Zhiyan Zhang

Guangzhou Water Planning, Survey, Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd.
Guangdong Hongwei Ecological Planning & Design Institute Co., Ltd.
Pearl River Water Resources Research Institute




更多 Read more about: AECOM