West Bund Waterfront Public Realm

Since opening in 2021, the West Bund has been attracting up to 40,000 visitors in a single day, becoming a truly must-visit riverfront destination in Shanghai, and one of the most beloved public spaces in the city. And critically, it’s retained much of the existing landscape and materials in its transformation.

Once a significant industrial cradle on the Huangpu River and the site of the 2010 World Expo, the under-utilised West Bund had immense potential to be transformed into a much-needed series of vibrant, flexible and nature-filled open spaces in high-density Shanghai.

The visionary West Bund Group is committed to providing enjoyable and accessible spaces for the public that promote a healthy lifestyle. In early 2021, The Group commissioned Hassell to regenerate a series of waterfront nodes spanning 11.4km along the West Bund.

Central to our design strategy was retaining as much of the existing landscape and materials as possible. Together with our client, we have worked to revive this area and create a place that will serve the community now and well into the future.


West Bund Group


Shanghai, China







Design team

Michelle Zhu, Andrew Wilkinson, Yucheng Chen, Poppy Wu, Xiaolin Chen, Andi An, Jiayi Hu, Rex Zhao, Shane McCarthy


Hinok Cai, Hassell

Landscape architecture is not just about creating beautiful places but about building connections between people and nature. We appreciate the concept and ideas that Hassell brought to the Xuhui Waterfront.”

Ye Keyang, Deputy General Manager, West Bund Group


Our key design driver for this previously inaccessible waterfront area was to create spaces open to all (including pets!) both during the day and night. We imagined a place where people gather, take part in exercise and activities, engage in pop up events, or simply enjoy the connection to the river, the surrounding nature and stunning views of the city — a true place of respite and wellbeing.

The West Bund now boasts grassy areas for picnics, gatherings and quiet time, exercise spots and cafes, a skate ramp, bicycle lanes, pop up event spaces, sitting platforms and in a true connection to place, a long table for activities such as drawing, created by our team and inspired by the way the Huangpu River curves and flows.

We designed the landscape to complement the four types of functions and activations that are dotted along the riverfront: cultural venues, retail, food and beverage outlets, independent buildings and temporary facilities. Importantly, no buildings along the West Bund are single-use and the spaces around them are accessible to everyone. 


At the core of our design strategy was preserving and celebrating the existing landscape and materials. There were already many fully-grown trees along the 11.4km riverfront which we retained, along with several existing buildings. In addition to the environmental benefits, this retention is important for people who have many cherished memories of the area.

Retention also plays a key role in addressing many of the site’s challenges, such as the impact of typhoons and floods. In addition to the trees, we preserved as many existing plants as possible, with their deep and stable roots that can resist natural disasters. We also designed a detailed plan for selecting a vast array of plant species that will be positioned near flood control walls and on over-river platforms, creating a more resilient environment that can cope with extreme weather. Such a beautifully diverse landscape changes with the seasons allowing urban dwellers to connect to shifts in nature while providing an important habitat for birds and animals to rest and nest. And by applying sponge city principles of preserving, keeping and purifying water at its origin, the plants have access to water and flooding is managed.

We also reused a large portion of existing concrete panels and paving, and in keeping the hard-edge riverfront structure intact, we incorporated it into our design, using trees and plants to soften the edge.


Since the various nodes of the West Bund started opening, our team have heard many anecdotes about how much Shanghai visitors and residents are loving the new landscape. Because the spaces are so enjoyable, people opt to take the longer route to cycle or walk along the riverfront, rather than shortcuts that would get them to their destination faster. The transformative power of this newly regenerated landscape is drawing people together as they form communities and connections.

Our team has been delighted to see people engaging with the spaces in ways unexpected and innovative ways – sunbathing, which is not common to see in China, people bringing board games to play on the tables where we thought people would only stay for a short amount of time, school excursions being organized around the River table’, and people relaxing and dancing on the timber decks. It’s a joy to witness.” - Michelle Zhu, Principal, Hassell

2023 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Award for International Project

Since it opened in 2021, West Bund has become a landmark segment of one of the world’s most iconic riverfronts. Through international and local collaboration, the project consortium has delivered a critical piece of public space of immense scale and complexity, within a city of more than 26 million people. The project knits together several historic neighbourhoods at various stages of development and urban renewal. It works within the engineering constraints of the bund wall to create new opportunities for social, cultural and recreational engagement. Accommodating vast visitor numbers, West Bund demonstrates the value of high-quality social infrastructure and sets the tone for future bund expansions as the city continues its push to regenerate sites along the Huangpu River.”

— AILA Awards Jury Citation


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