Longgang River: a blueprint for waterfront revitalisation

The Shenzhen Longgang River Blueway project is a major municipal civil project that will protect and enhance 1,000 km of waterways in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

In an initiative to reclaim urban waterways, the Longgang River, originating from the north of Wutongshan Mountain, is undergoing a remarkable revitalisation, having witnessed both the positive and negative effects of development over many years.

Hassell has been working on the transformation of various parts of a 23.6km long section of the river based on our overall master plan. This part of the waterway meanders through tech centres, metropolitan areas, historical culture precincts and natural environments. Our work on the renewed waterfront intends to bring the river back into focus for the community while rejuvenating the shoreline for the wider city area.

The design brief called for a solution to three key challenges: fluctuating water levels during different seasons, poor public access to the river’s edge, and varying and at times even competing development projects along the waterfront. 

In early 2023, phase one (the pilot section) of the project opened to the public. The 4.6km area includes two sections designed by Hassell together with UPDIS, called U-dream Valley and Dragon Waterfront.

The overall landscape framework for the Longgang River is the starting point and backbone for a growing waterfront,” says Chong Wang, Hassell Principal.

We are excited to see people gathering and enjoying the new public spaces along the river, activated by a program of activities and functions in this urban context.”

— Chong Wang, Principal

The design uses low-intervention ecological embankments instead of engineered flood barriers, integrating drainage channels and urban parks into a green infrastructure corridor. This approach minimises the impact on wildlife habitats, creating a safe waterfront recreational space for residents while improving flood control and drainage.

The project also aims to preserve the existing local culture on the site, retaining the traditional Nine Dragons Wall along the Long Garden waterfront and expanding it into a leisure square for citizens. Hassell is also the architect for some of the new pavilions along the waterfront, which encourage community gatherings and take inspiration from traditional Hakka bamboo woven hats. 

Since its completion, phase one has recorded an average of 4,000 visitors per day, and work on this project continues with more sections of the waterfront expected to be completed later this year. 

Photography: Chill Shine