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Transforming previously congested spaces into natural havens seems to be a trend lately. Paris just announced they would be turning the famous Champs-Élysées into an "extraordinary garden. Now, it's being revealed that the runway for the former Longhua Airport in Shanghai became a 6,000-foot-long park.

The airport, which closed in 2011, is part of the Xuhui riverfront area undergoing a massive revitalization becoming a mixed-use district. Architecture studio Sasaki decided to make the runway part of that effort by turning it into a park locals could enjoy. It's meant to be a sanctuary within an otherwise urban setting.

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To do this, the team turned the stretch of pavement into a series of pedestrian walkways and cycle paths and added six rows of trees that line the entire park. Smaller gardens are scattered throughout and connected by concrete walkways. In a way, it resembles the energy of the previously busy taxiways, but in a much more tranquil setting. It also allows for the uniquely linear layout to feel more like a traditional sprawling park thanks to a large lawn that can hold 3,500 people and a special birdwatching grove.

It was important to the studio to include parts of the original runway into the design as well. But, they faced the problem of it being covered up by pavement after closing 10 years ago. Luckily, they were able to peel away the top layers to reveal historical portions. Now, visitors can still see original direction markings while demolished parts of the runway line various pathways.

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Aside from being visually stunning, the park is functional as well. It was designed to collect runoff rainwater and flow towards a rain garden at one end and a collection basin at the other. It is then purified and used in decorative fountains as well as for watering the grounds.


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