This former Shanghai airport has been turned into a beautiful parkAndrea Smith

A beautiful new park has been built on the runway of what was Shanghai’s only civilian airport as part of an urban revitalization project. Xuhui Runway Park is a 1830-meter-long park in the Xuhui riverfront area of the city, divided into a series of smaller gardens and planted areas.

The sustainable urban park is situated on the site of Longhua Airport, which operated for over 80 years and closed in 2011. It is almost two kilometers long and has pedestrian walkways, designated bike lanes and six rows of deciduous trees. Architecture studio Sasaki created its design to mimic the motion of a runway, and the theme continues throughout the park with a runway playground and fountain.

An aerial view of Xuhui Runway Park
The park is almost two kilometers long © Courtesy of Sasaki

To reflect the site’s previous history, there are diverse linear spaces for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. The ascending and descending movement throughout the park aims to connect visitors to the past, with overlooks created for pedestrians and cyclists to resemble the experience of being on an airplane. There is also a multipurpose lawn with a capacity for holding 3500 people. Special features include the birdwatching grove and the Children’s Interactive Fountain.

A child playing at a fountain in Xuhui Runway Park
There are fountains in the park © Courtesy of Sasaki

Multiple water features inspired by the aviation industry include the Runway Fountain and the Silver Wings Fountain. A sunken garden is carved between the park’s subway station and neighboring development, and cultural events and performances can be accommodated there for up to 900 people. Various restaurant and public service facilities scattered throughout the park are designed to allow for small social gatherings.

An aerial view of Xuhui Runway Park
The park is designed to mimic the motion of a runway © Courtesy of Sasaki

Portions of the original runway concrete have been incorporated into the design, including integrating them into the birdwatching grove to form intricate resting spaces. The design team identified a row of 3.6-meter-wide structurally-sound runway panels to serve as the main pedestrian path of the park, with the original direction markings preserved.

The demolished concrete pieces have been reused in a randomized paving pattern next to the main pedestrian path. According to Sasaki, this has not only saved on construction costs but also reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing of new concrete.

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