Fish Tail Park, a floating forest in China
Turenscape reimagines an urban dumping ground in Nanachang
In the city of Nanchang, within the Yangtze River flood plain in east-central China, the architecture firm Turenscape transformed a disused 126-acre waterscape into a dreamlike floating forest. Its name is Fish Tail Park.
It regulates stormwater, provides habitat for wildlife, offers an array of recreational opportunities and gives residents a new way to connect with nature. All of this has lent a unique identity to the New District, serving as a catalyst for urban development in the surrounding area.
Fish Tail Park offers a replicable model of designed urban nature for regions with monsoon or variable climates that can address the multiple challenges of floods, habitat restoration and recreational demands.
The project is part of a larger effort by the firm’s landscape architect, Kongjian Yu, to show that it is possible to open up new space in cities, not just for people but also for nature and for powerful forces like monsoon storms that drive critical natural processes.
Fish Tail Park: a flood-adapted, floating forest
Inspired by the ancient concept of farming atop marshlands and by simple cut- and-fill techniques like the Aztec Chinampas or floating garden system, the coal ash dumped on site was recycled and mixed with dirt from the fish pond dykes to create numerous islets.
At the same time, the Turenscape team created a lake that can accommodate two meters (6.5 feet) of water-level rise, providing the capacity to catch a total 1 million cubic meters of stormwater inflow.
Looking at Poyang Lake’s native monsoon-flood-adapted marsh landscape, the firm selected tree species can survive fluctuating water levels, including Taxodium distichum, Taxodium distichum imbricatum and Metasequoia glyptostroboides.
In addition, because fluctuating water levels often expose barren muddy shorelines, perennial and annual wetland plants were planted along the shorelines and island edges and lotus plants provide highly efficient lake cover.
Fish Tail Park: a recreational waterfront where city + nature meet
Fish Tail Park’s central forest on the water, which is submerged during the annual monsoon floods, provides opportunities to explore nature and a ‘messy,’ immersive marsh experience.
Meanwhile, the waterfront at the periphery of the floating park is designed to accommodate 20-year floods and provide a zone that can meet the recreational needs of the local population, including natural playgrounds, beaches, fountains and lawns. There are also terraced constructed wetlands designed to filter urban runoff.
A bike route and service road follow the park’s periphery. A network of pedestrian paths and platforms surround the lake and provide access to the forested isles, offering visitors myriad opportunities to explore.
The boardwalk is designed to be submerged during 20-year flood events and annual monsoon floods, which can render the central part of the park inaccessible for several days at a time.
While the circular pedestrian and bike paths are above the 20-year flood event line, the boardwalk and platforms are made of prefabricated concrete, detached from the ground or floating above water. They can be easily washed clean after being submerged, along with the benches made of aluminum.
Bridges, platforms, pavilions and viewing towers are carefully placed to provide attractive focal points. Their contemporary design helps to infuse the ancient city, which dates back well over 2,000 years, with a sense of modernity and progress.
Perforated aluminum plate is the main material used for the installed structures, creating an arresting contrast with the natural setting. At the park’s main entrance, a cafeteria is integrated with an overpass across a six-lane road, connecting Fish Tail Park with the neighboring Aixi Lake Park.
- Name: Fish Tail Park
- Location: Nanchang, Jiangxi, China
- Client: Nanchang Gaoxing Zhiye Property Development Investment Co. Ltd.
- Landscape architecture: Turenscape
- Lead architect: Kongjian Yu
- Engineering team: Yu Fumin, Zhang Wei, Chen Rao, Lu Ang, Li Bo, Huang Songtao
- Design team: Kongjian Yu, Yu Hongqian, Fang Yuan, Tong Hui, Jia Jianmin, Wang Dezhou, Wang Haixu, Wen Xuanying, Chen Lingxue, Wang Rui, Bang Minghui, Chen Yunying, Zhang Chao, Liu Jiahao, Wang Xiaoming, Zhang Fan, Jiang Jingri