In the Yellow Crane Tower the jade flute is being played, while in the River City plum blossoms are dropping in May.
The “River City” mentioned in the poet of Li Bai actually refers to the City of Wuhan. But we don’t know when it happened, “River City” has since been used to describe Wuhu, a small city located by the Yangtze River, where I was born and grew up.
My teenage years were spent in Wuhu, which was once narrow from east to west and long from north to south. It was like a shoulder pole: one end was loaded with the heavy academic pressure, and the other was the emotional ups and downs of adolescence. At that time, the park was a haven of peace and tranquility, where I could wander around, listening to water and wind, watching birds, flowers and crowds, and loosening up in body and mind.
Afterwards, the park was named “Wuhu Central Park”. Prestigious as it sounded, I couldn’t help thinking, “is it a compromise with the urban planning? Is it what a small city like Wuhu really needs?”
Later, I was away from my hometown. Having visited many municipal parks of first-tier cities, I finally found there’s not a park like Wuhu Central Park which allows me to release my innermost emotions and walk around freely. As Jandy Nelson puts it, “Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you’ve been in before——you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers; You could find your way around in the dark if you had to.”
Public spaces change and upgrade, marking the development of Wuhu; people come and go, constantly enriching the texture of the city. When I returned and set foot in the Central Park again, the changes of the park and the city impressed me a lot.
Wuhu Central Park, for example, has changed its name to “Zhongjiang Park” since 2020. Connecting to Taihu Lake in the east and flowing into the Yangtze River in the west, the Zhongjiang River serves as a unique symbol for Wuhu both geographically and culturally. Needless to say, the new name suits the city better.
Returning to Wuhu and visiting Zhongjiang Park again, I felt as if I were back to my youth. Past memories flashed back, bringing me back to the old days and the old city.
Wandering along the winding green path allowed me to escape from the hustle and bustle of big cities, and feel completely at ease. How long have you not seen and captured the beauty around you like this?
With lakes, hills, streams and cascades around, the park is full of life under the sun. Walking around in the gentle breeze with willows lightly swaying, people of all ages will enjoy themselves and forget the passage of time.
A variety of well-arranged green plants contribute to a wild and dynamic space. Some young people were jogging, the family were laughing, and a girl was walking a dog, together creating a romantic picture of life that showcases the slow pace and comfort of the small city.
The mother and child walked hand in hand in the sunshine, enjoying their happy weekend. Here in the park of a small city, you can have a picnic, fly kites, camp or fish, experiencing the changes of four seasons instead of rushing at life in big cities.
Sculptures appear randomly in every corner of the park, forming a narrative poem together with the waterfront, the beach, the bell, the waterfowls and the people around.
Life here is colorful. Children enjoy themselves in the playground, on the beach, in the sunshine, and the in love of their parents. The air is filled with their laughter and happiness.
The one-day tour in Wuhu ended up in Zhongjiang Park, where I understood a lot. I believe that no experience is ever in vain. Maybe this is what the park wants to tell me — to feel vitality in crowd and to find myself in tranquility.
When I left Zhongjiang Park at sunset, I had got into a whole new state of mind.
I learned by chance that the designer had stuck to his idea of making the original Central Park a ribbon park, avoiding the scene where the green belt was cut into nine rectangular pieces. Having listened to the story behind the park, I was quite moved. Because of the designer’s insistence, Wuhu has saved itself from a stereotypical “lost space”. Zhongjiang Park, taking the place Zheshan Park, Jinghu Park as well as the Flower and Bird Market, has become my new favorite and will carry the memories of Wuhu people generation after generation. It is a park that really belongs to all of us, a “green ribbon between mountains and rivers” rather than a green island in the city that no one visits.
A complete image of a city gives citizens a lasting sense of identity and belonging. An ideal urban park is an important image of a city, which should be large enough, multi-functional and sustainable to attract residents to spend weekends here.
The design of Zhongjiang Park takes advantage of river, green path, hill and wood, creating a an ecological and sustainable green system.
“River” refers to the artificial landscape water system, and its water level design takes into account the urban water system planning, which is about two meters lower than the municipal road. “Path” refers to the walking system in the park as well as the public activity spaces connected with it. “Hill” refers to the artificial hill formed by the earth from the excavation of the river, which helps to collect rainwater. “Wood” refers to the planting system composed of lawns with flowers and grass, ecological grass ditch and wetland planting area, which plays a role in slowing down the ground runoff as well as storing and purifying rainwater.
The foundations of the park are solid with silt, and the hydrogeological conditions are complex with its groundwater level and surface runoff greatly affected by season, thus sometimes dry and sometimes waterlogged. Therefore, the designer explored vertically and turned the unfavorable conditions into advantages, creating a rainwater management system which not only functional but also visually impressive. It makes Zhongjiang Park a green infrastructure in the city center.
To make full use of the abundant rainfall and water resources, the designer reshaped the terrain to gather and use the rainwater. At the same time, ecological grass ditches, wetland planting area, and landscape waters formed the powerful rainwater management system. In addition, ecological gabion revetments were built to prevent the loss of soil and water.
To cope with seasonal flooding, a number of pump stations were built, and the normal water levels are controlled at 4.8m. The park turns out to be self-sufficient in water by making best use of rainwater and groundwater.
The construction of Sponge City can not only solve the problem of urban waterlogging but also improve the ecological environment. In the design for Zhongjiang Park, L & A team effectively managed the rainwater through the building of grass ditches and artificial wetland. And the rainwater management system has achieved good results within a few years after the completion, making the park a green lung of Wuhu in the city center.