We were invited to participate in a closed design competition for one of the most important plaza’s in the city. Large infrastructural changes and the development of a new modern office complex required a new plaza design along the Golden Axis, a 7km long main street housing the most important business and government institutions in Shenyang. The location of Citizens’ Square and the name assure its valuable status and importance for the people of Shenyang.
The design of Citizens’ Square offers conceptual solutions to two key issues: how to create a comfortable human scale on such a large plaza space and at the same time accommodate all the functional needs of a large infrastructural node. The first is addressed by the creative organization of the plaza. The center of the plaza provides a large space where people can gather. The rose, a symbol of the city of Shenyang, is incorporated into the natural stone paving pattern. This inner plaza is surrounded by a series of spaces that are designed more intimately. These spaces include areas for gardens, meeting places for playing mahjong, open areas for tai chi and shaded areas for picnics. Some of these spaces are sunken, making them more comfortable for sitting, eating and talking. The three tea houses also serve as public spaces in the winter months. Water flows slowly over the plaza, sometimes broken by small waterfalls, as it makes its way to the large water pools on the north end of the plaza.
The Square is bordered by large streets and underneath lies the metro network as well as shops, parking and emergency shelters. The entrances to this underground network are extremely busy, where accessibility and the constant flow of people is essential to the functionality of the spaces above and below ground. These have been designed as glass greenhouses, providing green all year round on the plaza. Each greenhouse has been designed with a theme to help visitors orient themselves. One entrance is full with tropical plants, one with hanging plants and another contains a green water wall.