Guanlan River Regeneration



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Longhua Office of Urban Planning, Land and Resources Commission of Shenzhen Municipality


Masterplan for the regeneration strategy of the 15 km long Guanlan River Corridor with a total site area of 24 km²


2013 Concept


MLA+: Markus Appenzeller, Emiel Koole, Shuying Lin, Martin Probst, Madgalena Szczykpa, Lingfeng Tong, Milena Zaklanovic
Zhang Yan, Wang Nan (Multimedia)


2013 Competition First phase, Second place
2014 Competition Second phase, Winner and overall winner

We changed

From disconnected real estate to a vibrant piece of city


+ Stitching together public space systems on multiple layers from underground, ground and bridge level
+ Integration of public spaces and building functions from metro station platform to


+ Focus on public space networks to promote a low carbon lifestyle
+ Sponge city solutions in public space


+ MLA+ in close collaboration with client’s design management team
+ MLA+ leading multidisciplinary planning and design team
The neglect of rivers is a global phenomenon. Once, natural rivers were a lifeline for all species. Humans settled along rivers. They offered a source of food, and served as infrastructure for trade and business. The natural force of rivers also posed a threat to our growing wealth. So we started to control rivers into channels, and engineered them for our own purpose. The controlled rivers lost their natural function. In less regulated places, the old cradle of life, often turned into a sewer. Rivers can be rediscovered as a driver of positive change on many levels. Improved sanitation, control of industrial water, and advanced storm water managements leads to rising water quality. Healthy rivers are a key element of every sponge city strategy. This results in greatly improved quality of life for all species. The natural environment literally grows back along revived rivers. The rising value of the human environment shows in more people seeking the healthy riverside for recreation, and in higher attractiveness for riverside neighbourhoods. Shenzhen has actively embraced its neglected rivers. Along Guanlan River, we piloted a river oriented transformation approach. The comprehensive plan for “A city facing a river” includes a public and green space strategy that carefully knits together existing fragments of space into a larger whole. New programmes define natural as well as human habitats with programmatic priorities. A regeneration strategy shows how to revive the existing neighbourhoods along the river. The innovative multimedia pioneered how the power of contextual design is communicated.

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