AIA Hong Kong

Honor Award for Urban Design: Guangzhou Historic Town Conceptual Framework Plan

Winner: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)
Award: Honor Award for Urban Design

Guangzhou’s Old Town will become a priceless asset for the city. A systematic and integrated approach to historic preservation, modern re-investment and community revitalization will enrich the lives of Guangzhou residents and make Old Town a unified visitor destination. The area will be a showcase of 2,000 years of Guangfu culture and 1,000 years of commercial prosperity – the two parts of Guangzhou’s historic identity.

A coordinated action plan will re-imagine Old Town as desirable, walkable neighborhoods, and transform the area into an attractive live-work-play magnet for young people. It will re-establish the historic city’s water town character by restoring its ecological framework. It will give the old city dynamic new energy, and better integrate it into Guangzhou’s economy and tourism industry.

There are challenges for the Old Town, such as
1. Lost Architectural Heritage
2. Lost Scale and Historic Fabric
3. Loss of Neighborhoods Character and Identity
4. Lack of High Quality Public Space
5. Poor Pedestrian Experience
6. Limited Connectivity Between Historic Resources
7. Local Population Decline in Old Town Area
8. The Needs of Future Generation to be Adapted

This vision plan offers principles, near-term actions and longer-term goals, to achieve an authentic, livable and walkable new Old Town. The plan’s mountain-to-rivers ecological framework divides Old Town into three cultural districts, integrated by primary and secondary trails with branded way finding. Importantly, neighborhood and business regeneration should be integrated and simultaneous. There should be one holistic plan combining heritage preservation and infill development. Community microdegeneration projects should be bundled for efficiency and impact. Finally, Old Town should be ambitiously re-invigorated for citizens and visitors with a wide variety of activities: neighborhood cultural and creative activities, larger-scale historic and heritage programs, and major events that will attract people to historic Guangzhou from throughout the province, the nation and the world.