"Water Circulation and
Renovation in Historic Cities - Case Study of Chinese Water-based
Town, Suzhou in the South of Yangtze River"
Ruan Yi San
Suzhou is an old water-based town from 2500 ago, with rich water
networks. Utilizing its location, the city established double
grid structure comprised of cut river channels and gridiron road
networks, where the water and road run parallel, linking closely
with each other. Water as a soul of Suzhou, has served various
roles; conditioning the climate, improving urban landscape, disaster
prevention, drainage, water storage, flood control, etc. However,
the reclamation starting in the 1950's because of water pollution
and development of land transportation, triggered frequent flood
disasters within the city.
In recent years, protection and renovation of water channels
and castle walls have been promoted to regenerate historical
landscape of Suzhou. Moreover, the tourism and industrial activities
go together, based on the principle of outer industrial area
and inner water and green area. As a result, the GDP of this
city is ranked 5th in the country. As for water, one of the essential
elements of the landscape of Suzhou, the bank protection work
for the river of Hu Cheng He was started, covering wide areas.
The engineering work took 3 years to achieve satisfactory outcomes.
The river including 48 sceneries on its banks and 20 bridges,
has become an example of renovation of the waterfront environment
in a historic city. Not only restoring historical landscape of
old city areas, but the urban ecology protection area has been
designated to protect ecological system of the old city. Considering
the natural conditions, the landscape design aimed to provide
the space coexisting with water, excluding artificial buildings
as far as possible. For Suzhou as a water-based city, the protection
of water environment naturally contributes to the conservation
of its historical characteristics.
Around Suzhou, many towns with rich water environment are dotted,
including Zhouzhuang and Tongli. Most of the buildings in these
towns were built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties and some of them
have already decayed without any repair works. The poorly established
infrastructure also prevents these old towns to follow up the
economic conditions of neighboring towns. The old towns started
to prepare the protection plans in 1985. The maintenance works
and development of tourism served to revaluate the historical
value of old towns, reenergize the economy, and improve the lives
of inhabitants. Not only conserving the historical landscape,
the development of infrastructure such as drains and electric
cable burial are also important. The territorial industries such
as production of liquor and soy sauce, and local cultures such
as wedding ceremony on the water, and festivals are important
elements to be conserved. Utilizing characteristics of each city
is crucial for the success of urban renovation.
However, excessive emphasize on tourism tends to gather too many
people, and aggravate living environments, resulting to a townscape
lined with boring souvenir shops. Another problem is the construction
of replica buildings, separated from historical contexts. We
need to believe that the coexistence between tourism and living
leads to the sustainable development of these water towns, and
to put it into practice accordingly.
maps of Suzhou]
and Outer Industry]
of Water Scenery in Suzhou]
of Landscape in Old Towns]
Ceremony on Water]
"Conservation and Renovation of Urban
Heritage in Shanghai--Waterfront Industrial Heritages"
Wu Song Jiang （Suzhou He） and Huang Pu Jiang are referred to as "Mother
River in Shanghai". Shanghai occurred along Wu Song Jiang in ancient
times and developed along Huang Pu Jiang in the modern period. Shanghai
is the cradle of modern industry in China. After the opening of the
port, foreign capitals had rapidly expanded over industrial production
sectors and various factories had been built one after another. In
the 1850's, ship building yards were built. The release of factory
construction to foreign countries by the Umanoseki Treaty signed in
1894, allowed rapid increase of foreign capital plants. In the 1930's,
the plants in Shanghai accounted for up to one-half of the total number
of plants in China; 10,000 plants were concentrated along the north
coast of Suzhou He and the west coast of the Huang Pu Jiang, because
of favorable conditions such as industrial production, transportation,
water supply, drainage, etc.
Shanghai is designated as a historically and culturally renowned city
in 1986. The city began to focus on the protection of historically
important cultural properties; 16 national important cultural properties
and 114 cultural properties in Shanghai were designated. Moreover,
Shanghai city designated 632 places and 2138 buildings (total area
of 4,800,000m2) as excellent historical buildings to be conserved.
In 2002, "Ordinance for Shanghai's Historical and Cultural Landscape
Areas and Historical Architecture Conservation" was announced.
Different from the existing ordinances, the target for conservation
included thirty-year-old or more houses, industrial heritages such
as factories and warehouses, and zone-based conservation as well as
each building. According to the ordinance, 12 "Historical and
Cultural Landscape Areas", e.g., Wai Tan was designated in September
However, these areas have been in crises by rapid development in recent
years as well as existing high-rise buildings. In 2003, committees
and government of Shanghai proposed more strict requirements and goals,
called "Implementation of Strict Restriction of Construction in
Historical and Cultural Landscape Areas and Conservation System for
Excellent Historical Architecture". This proposal aimed for the
coexistence of conservation and development and diffusion of urban
culture, focusing on conservation of architecture as an important part
of urban planning and most important theme for pre-planning phase.
Conservation and renovation of industrial heritages have been most
emphasized in recent Shanghai. Industrial heritages have occupied an
increasing part of designated buildings as excellent historical architecture.
It can be said that their historical and architectural values have
finally been recognized through long years' efforts. At present, on
both banks of Suzhou He, industrial heritages have been renovated;
old factories were remade into ateliers for designer, clothing shop
For the future, industrial heritages in the outskirts of Shanghai will
be conceived as an important part for conservation. It will be necessary
to restrict development by controlling developers.
I will summarize the problems to be solved; firstly, most of historical
architecture is not well maintained. Secondly, the awareness of living
environment is low for the renovated historical buildings. For rapidly
changing Shanghai, the introduction of integrated landscape restriction
is an unrealistic goal. Therefore, we should have consciousness for
being the part of historic city, at the construction of new buildings.
Large-scale development plans are in progress for Shanghai Expo in
2010. There is an urgent need to prepare conservation plans for historical
heritages against the development planning.
and Cultural Landscape Areas]
Buildings in Wai Tan]
Map of Industrial Heritages]
of Renovation: Urban Art Center of Sculptures]
for Shanghai Expo]