Asla Honour Award in Analysis & Planning 2013

Biomatrix worked together with SWA & Herrara to design a 3.3km living filter Eco Corridor for Ningbo, China.  The design has won an honour award in analysis and planning from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Through the innovative synthesis of topography, hydrology and vegetation, the Ningbo Eco-Corridor project transforms an uninhabitable brownfield into a 3.3km long “living filter” designed to restore a rich and diverse ecosystem, create synergy between human activity and wildlife habitat, and serve as valuable teaching tool and model for sustainable urban expansion and development in China’s rapidly advancing economy.

Galen Fulford of Biomatrix made several visits to Ningbo while working on this design.  Situated on China’s eastern coastline in the heart of the Yangtze River Delta, with an urban population of 3.49 million (2010 Census), the city of Ningbo is one of China’s oldest and best-known cities, a key port for foreign trade, and an important economic center. As with many other cities across the country, phenomenal population growth in recent years has put an enormous strain on infrastructure, posing a monumental challenge for the local government to accommodate urban densification while minimizing negative environmental impacts.


The Ningbo Eco Corridor Design

A networked series of waterways organized by low, undulating hills was designed to treat polluted water from the established canal system, manage stormwater runoff from the newly developed areas, establish riparian zones for the restoration of wildlife habitat, and provide recreational and educational opportunities for the new inhabitants.

Hydrology: a new meandering watercourse to improve hydrological function
Replacing the existing system of dead-end and disconnected canals is a series of free-flowing rivulets, streams, ponds and marshland. The hydrological flow is designed to be slow and meandering, approximating the original conditions of the lowland floodplain, in order to support the re-establishment of the native ecology.

Through innovative bio-remediation technologies that mimic indigenous ecological processes, the newly constructed watercourse improves the existing quality of the canal water from Class V, restricted to industrial and agricultural uses and not fit for human habitation, to Class III, which is suitable for ecological restoration and recreational use.

Topography: a system of hills and valleys directs water flow
Incorporating fill from excavation in the surrounding development areas, the entire Eco-Corridor zone is carefully graded and shaped into contours creating a terrain of hills and valleys. The valley waterways serve to remove pollutants through settlement, aeration and bio-processing, allow retention for aquifer recharge, and highlight the different modalities of water as it moves across the site. The hills also serve to buffer the urban environment, frame views to the New City, provide vista points for visitors, and increase habitat diversity.

Vegetation: native plantings cleanse water and create habitat
Across this undulating landscape, the strategic placement of deciduous and evergreen species reflects aesthetic, programmatic, ecological, and climatic considerations. An emphasis on native vegetation supports the re-establishment of diverse plant communities along the length of the corridor, and encourages colonization by indigenous wildlife. Plantings along the riparian edge, and bio-swales and rain gardens throughout the site, cleanse stormwater run-off from the adjacent development and other building and hardscape areas. Plant selection also creates a unique sense of place: together with topographical variety, differentiation of species into groupings based on height, texture and color creates distinct spatial patterns.

“The scale is astounding. What sets it apart, is the reality of the analysis. It is carefully considered, realistic, technically sound, and exciting. The rationality is clear and the design makes sense.”
—2013 Professional Awards Jury