Shigu River Gaochun, China | Shigu River    |   Gaochun, China   |   9.5 KM Riverfront

The natural, economic, and cultural significance of the Shigu River in Gaochun County was well established when Overland began to work on master planning efforts in the surrounding area. To preserve and showcase these aspects of the river, Overland designed an eco-landscape to protect the locals already there, meanwhile welcoming visitors from the region and beyond.

The First Bend
The river at Shigu town is known as the “first bend in the Yangtze River.” Its hairpin turn is enabled by slow moving waters, making it an ideal ferry crossing, and a strategic military site in China’s turbulent history. Shigu means “stone drum,” named for a round stone sixteenth-century monument commemorating the victory of Lijiang’s Naxi ruler over an invading Tibetan army.
Natural Attraction
Its natural beauty and historical significance make the Shigu waterfront a natural destination for regional visitors from surrounding regions such as Nanjing and Lijiang. As plans for surrounding Gaochun county took shape, Overland and our partners at ARUP Shanghai anticipated increased tourism development around the Shigu River, threatening the beauty and vital aquaculture already there. The threat became an opportunity as the team proposed a strategic plan to protect the integrity of the water, meanwhile bolstering the area’s tourism infrastructure and accessibility.
Life On The Water’s Edge

The team’s first priority was to create the infrastructure to handle the stormwater runoff for the eventual development in the area. Then, to add value to the visitor experience and best preserve the existing resources of the river, they devised three distinct experiences along the river.

The ecological experience, the northernmost node, will allow for gentle exploration by kayak, bicycle, and foot. Focusing on education and nature as it was intended, the park-like area will contain a wetland demo and other ecological interpretive elements.

In the middle of the 9.5-mile stretch of river, the heritage of the local experience focuses on the aquaculture of the region, where locals have farmed crab and lotus for generations. A floating market is made possible at this gentle spot in the river, and visitors will be able to watch the authentic day-to-day practices of Shigu town residents.

Furthest south is the urban node, focusing on the developing region’s events. This will function like a Central Park for the area, hosting concerts and other entertainment for visitors and locals to enjoy together.

The three nodes will be interconnected with several pathways for pedestrian use providing not only a means to immerse visitors within the surroundings but an invitation to understand their environment through an extensive interpretive trail system. This new development will offer the region a sustainable infrastructure, providing both the need for ecological restoration and continuation of the region’s cultural heritage.