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Above: Perspective from the Waterfront Trail.

Master Plan








arts district

wetland park


Changshu, China

Weiztman School of Design

Project Type. Urban Planning

Size. 600 Acres

Professor. Stefan Al | Team. Kevin Yan, Naeem Sharestani


Summary. The robust canal network, strong economic growth, and rich historical identity provides an opportunity for areas like Qin Lake to become a destination for both locals and tourists from all over the world. By improving the water quality, connecting transit, creating a sense of place, and improving the public realm, Qin Lake can be set as a prototype for the rest of Changshu to follow in the future.

Location. Changshu City is located in the southeastern part of Jiangsu Province, the richest and fertile land on the Yangtze River Delta. About 37 miles north of Suzhou.

Program. Rapid urbanization, sterile urban development, and the intense industrial expansion patterns have depleted both Changshu's agriculture land and overall quality of life. Qin Lake, however, has been preserved to be planned as a visionary landscape for future development.


  • Compromised of 200 acres of water situated in an underdeveloped area of 650 acres, the site is severely underutilized.

  • Qin Lake has numerous channels that connect to the grater canal network of the city.

  • The site is host to approximately 60 acres of villages with adjacent agricultural land - agriculture being a major portion of the city's economy. Although many buildings are intact, the majority are vacant and heavily in disrepair.


Canals. Seven canals act as the skeleton and foundation of the city. With the ongoing water pollution stemming from the manufacturing and textile industries, the environment faces challenges.

Design. Qin Lake is developed as an "Island City", a place which is dynamic, lively, ecological, with excellent amenities: a Model city. The functional basis of the city is dynamic and varied, consisting of the wetlands and ecological sensitive zones, which are heavily related to the businesses, attractions, recreation and tourism, and creative industries. Related issues are also considered, including water remediation, integration of low-carbon technology, commercial services, business offices, and a waterfront residential community.


Framework PlanDerived from the form and character of the dominant elements of the city.

Edge Identity

Defining the edge conditions of major areas and creating a new identity for Qin Lake.

Water Machine

Designed to clean and filter the canals before being flushed into the Yangtze River.

Regional Trail

Defining the edge conditions of major areas and creating a new identity for Qin Lake.

TOD Strategy

Expanding the existing transit infrastructure to further enhance development.




Context Plan

Changshu edge identity + regional water machine

Regional Water Machine. Remediation is the first priority for the framework plan. While identifying major clusters of urbanization and industrialization, it is proposed to install filtration systems to immediately clean and filter the canal network, plant remediation basins, strategically place street end pocket parks and open spaces adjacent to the water and along the canal corridors.

Wetand remediaton

Wetland Remediation. Healthy wetlands slow down and filter runoff from storms, allowing sediment and other pollutants to settle out before reaching the lakes, rivers, streams, and drinking water. The wetlands also have the ability to absorb and transform nutrients and contaminants. By creating water purification functions, the wetlands also provide food and habitat for fish and wildlife, flood control, recreation, and education opportunities for the public.

Canal remediation

Canal Remediation. Instead of treating water as a major threat to the city and avoiding it, the plan welcomes water with three different landforms including mounds, terraces, and aeration basins. They all exist with the purpose of minimizing the harm of flooding, creating programs along the river, providing habitat for endangered species, and making the water system visible to the public.

TOD strategy and water machine

TOD Strategy. By introducing a BRT system, a transit-oriented development strategy is suggested to promote two major clusters for development. A major transit hub in the Northwest, among high-density housing, commercial, and institutional activity and in the Southeastern portion, and a secondary transit stop in the Southeastern portion, which is proposed for anticipated residents living in the newly renovated villages, branded as "Villas by the Lake".

Proposed city block.
Proposed city block.

Proposed Built Form. The phases of the built form comprise of creating anchors that justify development to its immediate context. These cultural and entertainment entities further develop the master plan by filling in the gaps constructed by the existing natural systems and villages with small, intimate blocks opposed to the superblocks in the surrounding context. More importantly, the wetlands also act as anchors to anticipate and justify development for the completion of the architecture plan.

Pespective illustration of CBD.

Perspective illustration of CBD.


Retail / restaurant typology

Retail / restaurant typology

Mixed-use typology

Mixed-use typology 

Residential typology

Residential typology 

Aerial view

Aerial view

Pespective view from the Nortern Harbor in the CBD

Perspective view from the Northern Harbor in the CBD.

Detail: CNC milled model. Materals: High density foam, acryli, illustrator board

Detail: CNC Milled model. Materials: High density foam, acrylic, illustrator board

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