Situated within the Yangtze River flood plains in Nanchang city in central-east China, the Fishtail park is a rejuvenation project of an ill-treated landscape of 126acres into a floating forest that exhibits stormwater regulation, promotes biodiversity, encourages recreational activities, and reconnects locals with nature. Turenscape Design Institute undertook the project to reimagine the waterscape as one of the largest floating parks which not only gives a unique identity to the new district but also acts as a catalyst for urban development.
The project is part of a larger initiative by the landscape architect of the firm, Kongjian Yu, to demonstrate that it is possible to create new space in cities for people and nature alike, as well as powerful forces like monsoon storms that charge essential natural processes.
Taking inspiration from the archaic idea of farming on top of marshlands and by simple cut-and-fill techniques like the Aztec Chinampas or floating garden system, the dirt from the fishpond dykes was recycled and combined with the coal ash dumped on the site to create several islets. The Turenscape team also built a lake that can hold up to 6.5 feet (2 metres of water level rise and retain 1 million cubic metres of stormwater runoff.
Three species that can withstand changing water levels such as Taxodium distichum, Taxodium distichum var. imbricatum, and Metasequoia glyptostroboides, were planted based on the native monsoon-flood-adapted marsh landscape of Poyang Lake. Additionally, to cover the barren, muddy shorelines caused by fluctuating water levels, perennial water plants were introduced along the edges.
The central floating forest of Fish Tail Park gets submerged during the yearly monsoon floods, offering opportunities for nature exploration and a “messy,” immersive marsh experience. The boardwalk made of prefabricated concrete is built to be submerged during monsoon floods and 20-year flood events, which can make the park’s centre inaccessible for days at a time.
The waterfront, encircling the floating park, is built to withstand floods occurring once every 20 years while providing a space with natural playgrounds, beaches, fountains, and lawns for the community’s recreational needs. Terraced artificial wetlands are also designed to capture urban runoff.
To create striking focal points, bridges, platforms, pavilions, and viewing towers are strategically placed. The installed structures primarily comprise perforated aluminium plates, leading to a clear distinction from the surrounding environment. The contemporary design instils a sense of modernity and advancement in the ancient city, which dates back more than 2,000 years.