Aecom reveals projects in China and Italy
The Wenying Lake reservoir, also known as the ‘Mother Lake’, is the most important water supply for the ancient city of Datong, in southeast China. With a massive increase in urban development since the 1980s, the level of the lake has dropped considerably, having significant effect on its appearance as well as the plants and wildlife it supports.
Following the Chinese government’s decision to incorporate the reservoir in an ambitious scheme to secure a water supply to Beijing – and in so doing replenish its water supply – Datong initiated its own ambitious project to restore the Wenying Lake and its ecosystem to its former glory.
In 2008, Aecom was commissioned to undertake the landscape design for an area of over six square kilometres along the lake front. It set out two major goals: firstly to design the lake and its surroundings as ‘green lungs’ for Datong, and secondly, for the site to become a major draw for people.
To achieve its goals, says Aecom, a simple approach was taken: ‘Planting serves as a foundation around the lake. On the city (west) side there are the paths and entry plazas corresponding with the urban fabric, connecting to the waterfront in a series of decks, steps and long esplanades’.
On the east side, the lake is designed ‘for passive use’, with human activities restricted, in an effort to establish a non-disturbed ecological zone.
Today, water, wildlife and people are flooding back to Wenying Lake, says Aecom. ‘The reservoir has been reborn.’
In sharp contrast to this project, is a new Aecom-designed piazza is now open to the public in the heart of Milan.
Named after the late Italian architect of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Piazza Gae Aulenti sits in the heart of the Porta Nuova Garibaldi development, adjacent to Milan’s main railway station.
Aecom (which won the project as EDAW) has, together with architect César Pelli and Italian landscape architect Land, created what it describes as ‘a stunning new gateway to one of Europe’s most stylish cities’.
Linked to Milan’s main public transport hub, Garibaldi Railway station, the square is a key part of one of Italy’s largest regeneration projects.
As lead designer for the Porta Nuova public realm design, Aecom’s work includes the main public space, the Gae Aulenti Piazza Circolare, walkways and connections to the neighboring park. Strategic guidelines for the public space were established by Gehl Architects.
The Gae Aulenti Piazza has‘a continuous flowing circle’ of seating around a 60m-diameter pool, designed to reflects the colours of the changing seasons and surrounding buildings. The sound of water cascading down two floors mitigates traffic noise, while ‘three beautiful oval cascades’ bring daylight and natural ventilation to spaces below. Light wells connect the square with the retail floor and car parking below, while also allowing light and air to penetrate the surrounding towers’ ‘deep footprints’.