Designing the largest public park in Shanghai
Tao Zhang ( MS/MLA, 08 )
Principal, Landscape Architect & Ecologist, Sasaki Associates
Group dancing at 3 am in the studio the night before the final review
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Tao Zhang lives in Boston and works for Sasaki, one of the world’s most renowned landscape architecture firms. He recently led the winning team in a competition to design the largest public park in Shanghai, which was completed in July 2015. The park spans 495 hectares (1,223 acres).
“An outdoor park is a living, dynamic space that is constantly evolving and driven by natural processes. The design must be considered from the user perspective, but it also must be respectful of and accommodate the natural system it is part of,” Zhang says.
Zhang’s science and ecology background, which he honed at SNRE, brings a critical sensibility to his design work. At Sasaki, he strives to make positive changes to the living environment, creating spaces with the sustainability to benefit generations of visitors.
As Shanghai’s largest public park, Zhangjiabang has prompted ecological and urban renewal. The park combines woodland and wetland habitats that redefine the natural environment in a city whose residents have a shrinking number of opportunities to experience nature. Zhang and his team’s design focuses on the existing canal, while improving water quality and rebuilding the biodiversity of the region’s aquatic ecosystems. They created several micro-climates to contrast Shanghai’s heat and improve the air quality. New transit lines are being built to connect the park to downtown and facilitate various uses for the park and increase accessibility.