Shenzhen is reaching new heights with its ‘boulevard in the sky’

Shenzhen’s Qianhai Mawan Mile will change the way you see the city. Source: Shutterstock.

SHENZHEN is about to get the green skydeck of every traveler’s dream.

The city’s Qianhai Mawan Mile, dubbed “boulevard in the sky”, is an elevated mile-long park that’s part of HASSELL‘s competition-winning masterplan for a mixed-use precinct within the new Qianhai business district.

For the uninitiated, HASSELL is an Australia-based architecture, design, and urban planning with offices in China, Singapore, and the UK.

“This project is designed to engage people – particularly the young, mobile residents of this fast-changing area – and promote better health and social connections,” HASSELL wrote.

The Qianhai Mawan Mile is a 1.6km-long winding skydeck that ties together new cultural buildings and lush parklands in one urban destination. Comprising three primary layers, the elevated multifunctional walkway flanked by greenery will serve as an uninterrupted cycling and jogging path.

Shenzhen’s Qianhai Mawan Mile is set to be a place to relax and unwind, and a vibrant mix of art and entertainment. Source: HASSELL.

On the ground level, the greenway will be split into gardens for quiet reflection, wet and dry play spaces for kids, group exercise areas, piazzas with cafes, and performance venues for outdoor events and art installations.

Below ground, a major entertainment precinct will be built with direct access to multiple metro concourses, and sunken plazas with semi-outdoor dining areas and marketplaces.

But HASSELL’s project isn’t the only one in Asia-Pacific. It builds on the success of elevated park projects and greenways around the world including:

Singapore

Asia’s greenest city‘s new elevated park is expected to span the entire island, crossing the north-south length of the country.

Set to become Singapore’s latest destination, the park will run along the Rail Corridor, a disused rail route that once served trains heading across the border into Malaysia.

It was formally shut in 2011, but the country’s Urban Redevelopment Authority has engaged Japanese firm Nikken Sekkai to turn it into an above-ground park that will run 24 kilometers, passing through residential neighborhoods like Bukit Timah and Choa Chu Kang.

The winning concept is called Lines of Life, and it will feature eight distinctively-themed stretches with 10 activity nodes, biking and walking paths, an organic vegetable farm, rock climbing walls, leafy galleries and blooming gardens, and gathering and meeting spaces.

Singapore’s “Lines of Life” is said to be one of the most ambitious rails-to-trails projects in the world. Source: Nikken Sekkei.

The eco-friendly corridor will also include lighting, toilets, resting points, water points, shower facilities, as well as rental-cycle vending machines and solar energy mobile phone chargers.

Singapore hopes to promote a healthier lifestyle by encouraging communities to walk the corridor and to drive active community stewardship.

Sydney, Australia

In 2016, the capital of New South Wales turned the route of a former freight railway line to a linear park and pedestrian pathway.

Dubbed The Goods Line, the AU$15 million (US$11.5 million) project was designed by Australian landscape architecture firms ASPECT Studios and CHROFI.

Initially built in the 19th century, the railway was used to transport Australian commodities such as coal, wheat, and timber until it was disused in the 1980s.

Instead of tearing it down, the firms reused the rail infrastructure and designed it to transport commodities of the modern economy: ideas, people, social and cultural interactions.

The Goods Line

The Goods Line follows the route of the once bustling but long-neglected railway line. Source: ASPECT Studios.

It now features grassy lawns, dining tables, table tennis tables, study pods, and a children’s water play area with a sandpit.

The design won a 2014 Australia Award for Urban Design in the Policies, Programs and Concepts – Small Scale category.

Seoul, South Korea

Last year, South Korea unveiled an elevated linear park built atop a former highway overpass.

Seoullo 7017, also known as the Seoul Skygarden or Skypark, was designed by Dutch architectural superstars MVRDV.

The hulking overpass was built in the 1970s to connect the eastern and western sides around Seoul Station. However, it was ultimately closed and abandoned due to road traffic due to safety issues.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government spent US$52 million to transform the existing structure into a new pedestrian walking experience, giving it a new lease of life.

Now a popular tourist attraction, Seoullo 7017 begins at Malli-dong and ends near Namdemun at Hoehyeon Station. Source: junaidrao @ Flicker.

Located high above the traffic, the 983-meter-long overpass features a variety of facilities including an information center, cafes, shops, galleries, gardens, and stages.

The gardens feature 24,000 indigenous trees and shrubs, grouped by fragrance and color according to the Korean alphabet.