Nanjing III – Xuan Wu Lake – 玄武湖

By Bryan • china, nanjing, urban planning • 7 Jun 2009

The Greenland Plaza has now become a bit of a skyline marker in Nanjing and is visible from most of the important areas within the city.  I drop the GLP probably too often…but it is like my skyscraper baby – I watched the initial foundation excavation and was present for all the major moments in it’s life…the first floors, it’s first steel beam reinforcement, it’s first glass paneling…but sadly I don’t think I will be there for it’s completion :-(

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Nanjing’s developing skyline.  Greenland to the left with the Nanjing International Tower (name?) right of center.  That completed project will eventually have a third rather large tower in the center of the two existing units…apparently.

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One of the great things about Nanjing is it’s park system, connected largely via the Ming Walls.  I had been told by a professor that an urban planning problem faced by many Chinese cities was dealing with maintaining and developing  public space corridors.  This is especially pertinent in regards to new city development on the fringes of “old cities”. 

To say that the new areas of Nanjing are well connected by public space to the older, inner Ming city is a stretch, but (I believe) the city within the walls is a good example of well-planned green public spaces, especially when one factors in the universities and tree-lined boulevards as connectors.

I was hoping to find a better map of the Ming Walls, but couldn’t seem to Google one up, so I’ll made my own.  It’s not that good, but it approximates the location of the wall in relation to Xuan Wu Park (I’ve also included Purple Mountain Park as well, since the two are connected.  Red is the wall, green is the two major city parks and white is Nanjing University. Most of the Ming Wall is green space and is very good walking-cycling space.

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The hammock forest – nothing like a lazy Saturday hanging out in the forest.  Busy, active spaces, yet surprisingly calm and quite.

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Sometimes hammocks just aren’t enough – urban camping alongside the Ming Walls.IMGP0005 The hammock forest – Ming Walls to the right.IMGP0006 IMGP0007
No hammocks for these dudes.
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Just inside the Xuan Wu Main gate – tea houses and kite flying (not in the photo, but to the right, near the shore). IMGP0008 
Nanjing Old City stone map – just outside of Xuan Wu Main Gate.

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When I lived in Victoria, my roommates and I would watch an show called MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge).  The premise was fairly simple – take a late-80’s Japanese obstacle show and dub it with improv English.

Here it is live! (a version…without the English comedy) in Xuan Wu Park.
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Much hilarity.

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Xuan Wu at night from the train station.xuanwuhu (1)

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4 Responses

  1. david

    heh heh…. nowadays I already submitted my thesis, so I have a plenty of time to check out my friends’ blog each day, including yours.

    Actually, i have to say Nanjing may have the best natual resources in China: Xuwu Lake, Zijin Mountain, Chang jiang, Qinhuai River, I haven’t found another city who has the same components. however, it has really bad city planning. of course, it is only my personal views.

    Comparing with Hangzhou, Nanjing’s city planning sucks. Especially the planning around the Xuanwu lake. NanJiang once had a slogan like ” Making (Xuanwu)Lake exposed, making (Ming)Wall visible” . it is good plan. the view now you can see in front of Nanjing railway station may be a successful example. However, except for that part, I didn’t see any considerable changes around the Ming Wall—acollection of messy flat houses are still everywhere and most of Ming Wall are still hidden in the chaos. Moreover, nanjing may have the worst designing of skyscrapers in China. Just take the Gulou zon for instance, which biulding do you think they are classic enough to be a ” landmark” ? Greenland Plaza? i don’t mean to hurt your “basy” but he is way too ugly…I hate that mansion…turely….

    There are many jokes in Najing’s city planning such as Nanjing Xuanwu tunnel on Zhong yang Road, the Peach Mansion on Beijing east Road, and including my office on Beijing west Road. .. They are really classic laughstocks….

    Another point I want to address is nanjing city shouldn’t have bulit some many seemingly “modern” skycraper” around the Xuanwu Lake” , sometimes you just feel they are totally out of harmony. If you hit Huangzhou City and walk around West Lake, you can have utterly different feeling —-everything is just wonderful !

    Sorry for my whining, but it is my ture thoughts..Don’t take it personally…

    • Oh, I think the Greenland Plaza is a horrendous example of land use planning. That is why I am so fascinated by it. It is very obvious that something like that doesn’t belong where it is, especially in relation to the Gulou Drum Castle and the surrounding architecture. I just can’t figure out why it is there…the logic is boggling at times. Gulou District competing against Baixia District, perhaps? I always wondered if there was even enough demand for that amount of new office space…with several other towers being built in Xin Jie Kou.

      I read an article by a Spanish architect who designed one of the new towns in Shanghai, in Fengxian District – his firm had submitted design proposals before in Beijing be always lost the competitions because their designs were too ‘traditional’ and not ‘modern’ enough. They won the Fengxian design because it was very ‘modern’ and new looking. Apparently it seems that that is what some city leaders want.

      I suppose the tunnel is an attempt at creating some sort of ‘ring-road’ around the city to divert through traffic. I’ve never driven it, so it is difficult to really know it’s function.

      I do like the connectivity of the green spaces though, especially between Zijin Shan and Xuan Wu, Ji Ming Si and Gulou gong yuan. You should see where I am right now….man…Yangpu is pretty bad for planning – not much greenspace…too many large boulevards…nothing is connected.

      I have yet to visit Hangzhou and Xi Hu – I should. I’ve heard it is quite commercial though – that is one thing I like about Nanjing’s wall…it’s still quite public and non-commercialized.

  2. david

    sorry . a couple of typos there.. The PEACE masion on Beijing East Road ….they are just classic LAUGHINGSTOCKS.

  3. david

    Huangzhou is definitely worth going. If you haven’t been there, you had better go there at least once. I personally think Hangzhou is the most beautiful city in China. Before it was highly commercialized, but after reconstruction project, it has changed a lot. Every time I go there, I just feel fresh-up… Enjoying the moment you walking around the West lake, you definitely can find the peace in the heart….

    Actually I love Nanjing, I just think it could be better….

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