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NL Urban Solutions participated in an international design competition around Xili Reservoir

The consortium of NL Urban Solutions participated the international competition for the overall conceptual planning and design of Blueway around Xili Reservoir


From March to July 2021, the international competition for the overall conceptual planning and design of Blueway programming around Xili Reservoir was held by Shenzhen’s Water Resources Bureau. The consortium that consists of NL Urban Solutions, Lingnan Design Institute and Power East China Design Institute, was selected as one of the top 6 tenders. This is the second time that the consortium has worked together; their previous collaboration resulted in the first prize for the Chishi River urban planning and design competition.

Xili Reservoir is located in Xili Science and Education City, which is part of Shenzhen. The reservoir is one of the most important sources of drinking water for Shenzhen, while Xili City is considered the future talent highland of Shenzhen. The design was focused on using blueway construction to enrich the landscape and ecosystem, while catalyzing the renewal of traditional villages. In parallel, another important goal was to attract innovation talent and research-oriented enterprises to gather and collaborate in the development of Xili International Science and Education City. Xili area will remain an important water source protection zone, yet at the same time become an innovative highland for academic research in Shenzhen and a model for the integration of ecological protection and urban development, while creating unique landscape scenery.

Based on thorough research of the existing situation at Xili and a comparative analysis of seven existing blueways (taking into account their different locations, contexts, hydrological status and future development functions), the design team proposed three different design strategies for the north and south parts of Xili Reservoir: Coherent & Connected Landscape, Enrich Ecology, Attractive Place-Making.

Issues facing the area around Xili reservoir include low accessibility and lack of experiential value for visitors, as well as poor connections between the reservoir and the nearby mountain and lake landscapes. The Coherent & Connected Landscape strategy resolves these challenges, as its name implies, by creating more access routes and visual relationships between the reservoir and the nearby city and landscapes. Traditional village industry in the Xili area is threatened by the impending urban developments. The design proposes to preserve these villages around the water source through the positioning the southern gateway of Yangtai Mountain. To preserve and enhance the existing riparian and reservoir ecology, the Enrich Ecology provides a toolkit of ecological measures, including a water park and bird habitats. Finally, the Attractive Place-Making strategy capitalizes on the charm of traditional culture and the natural setting of the reservoir, while creating meaningful, accessible, healthy landscapes for Xili’s residents and visitors to visit, walk and play.