Jinan is a city whose veins run with water. Its people hug the city’s ancient canals with family life, often occupying not only its edges but it’s cool body as a reprieve from the heat of the city. Water then becomes the organizing device of the 400 square km “Six Willows” Masterplan. The urban center becomes the ecology with the lake park as its source, creating a grand ‘amphitheater’ from which to embrace the water. Water orders the plan at all scales and a north/south spine springing from the lake park is created.
Six Willows integrates mixed-use both horizontally and vertically, creating a complex network of uses referencing the organic evolution of the old town of Jinan. The backdrop to life is water in all its forms from the grand to the intimate, creating a diversity of places and therefore experience from the grand to the humble; from the crowd to the individual all connected along the new ‘veins’ of water created. Grand boulevard-like spaces become civic places for the people. Tributaries then create local laneways, and neighborhoods are created in the traditional courtyard forms, with water at their center—the old city allowing life to flow into this new city’s veins.
Water creates an entirely unique ecology where green and blue mingle. This invites the courtyard form of the buildings to become secondary in structure. Inspired by the groves of weeping willows of the ancient town, the 700,000 sqm of mixed-use program emulates this ecosystem’s natural hierarchy in built form; the tall commercial towers form the six willows while the public domain threads in and out of these forms to create the lilypads beneath, flanked by the lotus pod like forms of the residential buildings. Six Willows establishes a place for people as purposefully as it does for person.