Skywalk to Nature | Bringing the forests to the people

The forested mountains of Fuzhou is now accessible, thanks to an elevated pedestrian walkway.

Designed by Look Architects, the China Fuzhou Jin Niu Shan Trans-Urban Connector, or “Fudao”, winds 19km through the capital of Fujian province in southeastern China; allowing the people who use it daily to get closer to the dense mountains.

The architecture sets out to capture the unique culture of Fuzhou. At an urban scale, the elevated walkway improves public accessibility and connects the city to the Jinniushan forests stretching north-east of Minjiang and a future commercial hub in the north. It reclaims the potential of the rich natural hinterland forests of the city as both an ecological and cultural resource for its citizens by providing a “green lung” as a counterpoint to the rapid urban growth of the city while exemplifying an awakened local consciousness to improve the lives of city dwellers by bringing nature within reach for all.

Ten different entrances link the network with communities previously disconnected by the mountainous topology. The urban intervention include a columbarium complex for rehousing exhumed graves, the rehabilitation of an abandoned quarry as a new visitor’s center and the conversion of an existing bus depot into an F&B hub and main entry point.

“. . . By combining the public amenities into one of the few green spaces within the city, we preserve it as a ‘green lung’ that protects the ecological green space, which also contributes to the city in terms of providing fresh air. . . ,” says architect Loh Kin Kit in an interview. “Imagine this as the last urban green lung in a densely built city. We wouldn’t want to destroy it just to build a connection. . . .”

“By combining the public amenities into one of the few green spaces within the city, we preserve it as a ‘green lung’ that protects the ecological green space, which also contributes to the city in terms of providing fresh air.”

Numerous site visits allow the team to select a suitable material and colour for the walkway to preserve the established ecology.  The largely steel connector has porous grating that allows light and water to filter down to the vegetation.

Social inclusivity is another aspect which plays largely in the design that incorporates a universal design provisions. The length of the walkway is wide enough to accommodate two adults and a wheelchair, and has a 1:16 gradient to allow for easier walking.

Together, these strategies help to maximize and preserve the natural forested environment for the enjoyment of the residents of Fuzhou.

Fudao is a thoughtful design that is well-executed and integrates into its surrounding greenery. More than a network of bridges, the walkway has rejuvenated the area and established a connection between the undulating mountain landscape and the city. This has drawn people into the delight of a lush, natural and green environment and put Fuzhou on the world map.

About President*s Design Award Singapore

The President*s Design Award (P*DA) is Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines. It recognises the achievements of an extraordinary group of people making a difference to the lives of Singaporeans and the global community through excellent design.

In 2017, P*DA was re-launched as a biennial award with a greater emphasis on the impact of design in enabling economic transformation; raising the quality of life; advancing Singapore brand, culture and connecting communities; and making ground-breaking achievements in the field of design.

Established in 2006, P*DA is presented in two categories – Designer of the Year and Design of the Year. It is conferred by the President of the Republic of Singapore and is jointly administered by the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

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