Regenerating a Disappearing Lake ——Hangzhou Xianghu Lake

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Location: Xiaoshan, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province

Client: Xianghu Resort Administration Committee, Xiaoshan Construction Bureau

Area of : 464hm2 (Phase I); 595hm2 (Phase II)

Competition: First Prize, 2004 (Phase I);

First Prize, 2008 (Phase II)

Design: 2004-2005 (Phase I);

2008-2010 (Phase II)

Completion: 2006 (Phase I); 2011 (Phase II)

Xianghu Lake, located in the southwest of Xiaoshan, is regarded as sister lakes with West Lake in history. However, due to its remote location and poor traffic, Xianghu Lake has been so little known as to be like a girl in her boudoir. In the last 100 years, most of water area was filled and Xianghu almost existed in name only.

Xianghu Scenic Area covers an area of 51.7km2. Its Phase I, located in the north and about 4.64km2, is the venue of 2006 Hangzhou World Leisure Expo. In 2004, Atelier DYJG won the competition and got the commission for further development design.

After a series of comprehensive analysis, the regular water level and the overall shape of lake body are determined. Part of the lake area is formed by the digging mud for making bricks decades of years ago, and the bottom of the lake is in different elevation. This fact advantages in creating a diversified water ecological environment and biodiversity. In other area, hydrophytes are planted and artificial islands are established to create a wetland landscape, and to enrich the spatial changes of Xianghu Lake.

Some ridges are situated between 20-meter-deep pits, which were used for transporting silt. After many years of traffic rolling, these ridges have been very strong and solid. We propose to retain these ridges and transform them into paths in the New Xianghu Lake, linking north and south banks and separating the lake space.

In order to restore to its earlier natural status, we extend Xianghu Lake water area into the valleys and make it closely linked with the surrounding mountains. Some small lakes are dotted at the foot of the mountains. They not only generate the spatial variations, but also collect rainwater running from the mountains to prevent the sediment and leaves flowing into the main lake.

Under the premise of protection of existing vegetation, we propose to reconstruct the forest structure in vegetation deterioration area to attract a large number of animals to live in the mountains.

After Phase I completed, we won the Phase II Design Competition. In Phase II, we expect to achieve the goal of building an ecological leisure lake by establishing a beautiful landscape and restoring the historic water area. Phase II is also the venue of 2011 Hangzhou World Leisure Expo.

By analyzing the spatial characteristics, functions and development feasibility, we propose to build Field Experience Center, Leisure Center and Science Center, and define the construction content, location and development intensity.

We suggest transforming the village from agriculture-based into tourism-based, and the measures include retaining the existing two villages, removing industrial buildings and temporary structures in the village, renovating the village façades, regenerating the streams through the village, completing the trail system, creating the public spaces, and updating existing tea plantation and orchards.

We also planned to retain some river courses and connect them with creeks in the villages, providing people sightseeing routes and enriching the landscape composition.

In Phase I & II, the old houses of good quality were retained and transformed into Exhibition Halls and Service Buildings. Some bricks and tiles plants were renovated for the use of galleries and tea rooms, construction debris left after the demolition were reused as causeways, roadbeds and pavement materials; part of village roads were integrated into tourist trail system, and the old tombs and other relics were regenerated to enhance their accessibility.

Xianghu is a reborn ancient lake, which includes many past messages under its pretty new outlook. It is the combination of the past and the present, creating the charm of Xianghu Lake Scenic Area.

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