Revive the river, China
Baiyangdian is the largest freshwater wetland in North China, with an area of more than 300 square kilometers at its largest. Historically, a combination of nature and man-made influence has formed a group of 146 large and small lakes connected by more than 3,700 ditches and rivers. This wetland carries important ecological and cultural functions, such as regulating regional climate, flood storage and discharge, pollution purification and reed and lotus production There are also many precious animals and plants in Baiyangdian, which make this wetland area “the kidney of North China.”
However this ecological treasure area is facing threats and crises. Due to the building of dams, agricultural irrigation and population increase, decreasing rainfall and increasing evaporation, the water surface in Baiyangdian Lake has shrunk by a third in the past 30 years. Many wetlands have gradually become farmland and residential land.
Baiyangdian gathers the water of 9 rivers that originated from Taihang Mountain ridges. This project is about one of the rivers, the Tang River. After the Ming Dynasty, as the vegetation in the Taihang Mountains was destroyed largely, soil erosion became more serious and the rivers were cut off frequently. Since the 80th century, due to the interception of reservoirs and dry climate, river ecology has been seriously damaged, and many rivers have disappeared.
The goal of this project is to guide the development of the tourism industry on the premise of restoring the ecology and to protect the unique local culture. Relieve ecological threats through ecological design techniques; restore a healthy ecological balance by adjusting the landscape structure. And through the transition from traditional agriculture to sustainable agriculture. It could be a win-win situation for ecological protection and sustainable agricultural and tourism development.
The project site is about 20 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide. There are some wetland areas and rice fields at the east side, but most of the riverbed in the site is dry and coved by corn fields, which forms a very open and flat landscape. There are dikes along the north and south sides of the river, and many tall poplar trees grow on the dikes. To restore the ecological function of this area, the first thing is to create a healthy river zone. By using water restore the vitality and strength of the landscape . By combining water conservation, ecological recreation and countryside sightseeing to create resilience countryside.
The starting point of our design is “art of nature”. We believe that the essence of this project is to let nature take the lead, and use nature means to restore and reshape the landscape. This landscape can be changed and is resilience. The designer just acts as a natural assistant to make some rules. Based on this, we “excavated” a water way in the project area. The location of the river follows the low areas in the current site. The shape comes from the lines and texture of the current farmland. This water storage belt gradually widens from west to east. Under the natural erosion of newly formed rivers, the boundaries of rivers will become more and more natural and smooth.
The deep part of the river forms a permanent river course, and the shallow areas provide the ecological tidal area and rainwater seepage area. The remaining land in the riverbed of the site still retains agricultural functions, but it is transformed into extensive and flexible agriculture that can coexist with wetlands. By transforming the topography of the site, a diverse space is created.
Not only water and shoals have been added to the river, but also wood land has been added in some places to improve the capacity of water and soil conservation. A slow traffic system in the north and south areas connected to the site. These trails and lanes also connect the landscape highlights and activity areas in the site. These landscape highlights are related to the characteristics of the water town and local culture, such as ecological homestays and water museums; or related to water activities, such as water gardens, and wetland leisure sightseeing.
In the end, after the landscape renovation, 9 new landscape types, nearly 300 kilometers of ecological waterfront and 700 hectares of new forest land were created. The abundant landscape types and plant species will promote the increase of animal species. In this way, Tanghe is not only a compound country park on the edge of Baiyangdian Lake, but also becomes an outdoor ecological museum.