More green, identity, cultural history and human scale for Chinese cities

Vision, design and realisation of various projects in Shenyang (CN)


    Together with Niek Roozen Landscape Architects and Niek Roozen International Design Team Urhahn contributes to the greening of Chinese cities and their expansions. An array of our co-operation in the northern Chinese city of Shenyang.

    Shenyang is an industrial town about 600 kilometers north of Beijing. The city has an impressive history, where some emperors left behind monumental buildings and memorials.


    Vision on 5750 hectare development area

    Because of the speed of growth in China, there is hardly any time to reflect, and developments often follow trusted principles. But Shenyang asked 4 international companies to give their view on a (5750 hectares) master plan for Hunnan, a new town for the historic city. Niek Roozen and Urhahn implemented the characteristics of the area to give the master plan a more unique identity. Roozen introduces the ‘Green City’ principle which doesn’t erase the hills and rivers, but uses them for a solid structure with public value for inhabitants and visitors. Urhahn complements the grid by keeping some of the existing villages’ street patterns to introduce a friendlier scale and a cultural and historic soul. The presentation was received with enthusiasm and our team was asked to detail some of the ideas.


    Public space in the new town

    After drawing up the development plan for Hunnan, Niek Roozen International Design Team was commissioned to make a detailed design for the green structure. We defined several units that differ in usage and characteristics. Each component in itself contributes to the formation of a future new ‘address’ or local identity. The development of a new city hall and the provincial government’s buildings are situated at a grand central square of 3,000 by 300 meters. The project was delivered in 2012. Urhahn continued to work on the elaboration of the Baita river in the area.



    In competition with a Japanese, Chinese and an Australian office Urhahn worked in a multidisciplinary design team on a square design with strong relation to two metro lines crossing the square. The square should be able to carry thousands of people during festivals and holiday traffic. On the other hand it should feel comfortable at low dynamic moments. Our team focused on green in the city, designed by arranging vertical gardens that make the connection with the underground program. Green provides an important contribution to the experience of the public space, the quality of the air and the regulation of the temperature. Urhahn’s contribution in the project was creating a smooth linkage between the transport lines underneath and the urban quality that needs to be found on top of it. Our design hasn’t been chosen. The complexity and the fact that there was little time for the development were part of the argumentation.


    Movie Town Xiu lake

    The Xiu reservoir in the mountains northeast of Shenyang supplies an important part of the drinking water for the city. Around the lake urban leisure programmes have been expanded. In winter one can skate, ski and swim (!). In summer the town offers workout areas, boat trips and amusement parks. A special programme along the shores is the location of a film set. A collection of historic buildings and a city wall form the backdrop for many movies. The film set will become an attraction in itself, and needs more facilities for that purpose, like restaurants, shops and a hotel. Urhahn was commissioned to make several urban design sketches. All developments should be in keeping with the size and atmosphere of the film set. This creates a true movie town.



    Shenfu, east of the city of Shenyang, is a town that has grown because of the mining industry. With the closing of the mines space has emerged for housing. The municipality of Shenyang commissioned Niek Roozen International Design Team to enrich the potencies of urbanization by enhancing the relationship with the existing watercourses. Our team chose to develop the river in the area in a natural way, and adding sports as the main theme for the area around the canal, giving the developments distinguishing characteristics.