Kunshan Demonstration Park wins a landscaping award

November 21, 2022

The Kunshan Demonstration Park won the 2022 International Award of Excellence from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA). The Award of Excellence is the highest award in each category, given to the work judged to be the most significant for advancing landscape architecture.

Collaboration partners REALMstudios, E2Designlab, BKK Architecture, the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, the Jiangsu Provincial Planning and Design Group and the City of Kunshan transformed a formerly neglected and polluted infrastructure corridor and canal into a functional and aesthetic parkland. The demonstration park exhibits cutting edge water sensitive infrastructure and technologies.


Image credit: Kunshan Bureau of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

Rather than hiding urban water management infrastructure, the project embeds this infrastructure as a feature of Kunshan’s landscape. Designed and implemented over multiple stages, the project comprises a range of features:

  • The recirculation wetland manages water quality and keeps water moving in the adjoining polder canal.
  • The riparian ecotone demonstrates the exemplar template of how a riparian zone can be restored. It shows the diversity of ecological transition from aquatic, deep marsh and shallow marsh to terrestrial plants.
  • The central median biofilter shows how the streetscape will capture road runoff for stormwater attenuation and pollution reduction.
  • The swamp forest wetland will add a vertical dimension to the traditional stormwater wetland and provide visual screening for the overhead power lines.
  • Immersive experiences such as the finishing pond bring park users into close contact with the water and native plants (e.g. lotus and lily flowers, deciduous Swamp Cypress trees).

Image credit: Kunshan Bureau of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

The park provides services including water cleansing (via ecologically based water treatment technologies), recreation and food production. It also uses recycled materials where possible to engage users and highlight the regenerative focus.

“This project demonstrates how an underused dumping ground within an infrastructure corridor could be regenerated and transformed into a functioning park using nature-based solutions,” said Dr Jianbin Wang (Chief Innovation Officer with the former CRC for Water Sensitive Cities and now Water Sensitive Cities Australia). “The focus on clean water and urban swamp forest has enriched the lives of local residents, who have incorporated the parkland into their routines,” he said.

Over time, the water bodies and local plantings will screen out and distract users from the power lines and attract birdlife back to the area.

Professor Tony Wong (Chair of the Water Sensitive Cities Think Tank) joined high-level Australian and Chinese dignitaries at the park’s ground-breaking ceremony in 2018. The park is supported by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Trade Victoria, Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Image credit: CRC for Water Sensitive Cities.