Jinji Lake Waterfront
Suzhou, China
Metro Area: Suzhou
World Region: Asia Pacific

ULI Award Finalist
Project Summary

Project Type:
Mixed-Use--Three Uses or More
Profile Summary

Land Use(s):
Open Space, Retail, Office, Educational Facility, Residential, Open Space, Lake

Site Size:
1273.0 acres/515.2 hectares

Location Type:
Inner City

Date Posted:


Waterfront Development, Public/Private Partnership,

Project Summary

The Jinji Lake Waterfront district is the centerpiece of the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), a “special economic zone” surrounding Jinji Lake that is being developed as a large-scale planned community. For the new community of 600,000 residents, Jinji Lake will be a visual focus and provide an identity and organizing framework for the SIP's recreational resources and its economic and environmental sustainability.

In 1994, the Chinese government designated the 2,300-hectare (5,683 ac) area, four kilometers (2.5 miles) east of the ancient city of Suzhou (population 5 million), as one of 14 special economic zones where foreign investment is encouraged. Developed as a joint venture between the governments of China and Singapore, the SIP is projected to generate 360,000 new jobs by its full buildout in 2020. After almost a decade of false starts and negotiations among the two national governments and the city of Suzhou and prospective private partners, the Hong Kong office of landscape architect and environmental planner EDAW, Ltd., was commissioned to design the new community's interface with the 740-hectare (1,829 ac) Jinji Lake, the most prominent natural landscape feature in the SIP. Drawing on the two famed identities of Suzhou—its canals and walled gardens—EDAW conceptualized the district as eight neighborhoods with diverse water and landscape expressions encircling Jinji Lake.

Each neighborhood has its own identity. Neighborhoods on the western and northern shores, closer to the city of Suzhou, feature broad promenades that attract residents and workers to the water's edge. Waterfront parks are adjacent to shopping, entertainment, and cultural destinations. These neighborhoods have names like Cityside Harbor, Marina Cove, Grand Promenade, and Arts and Entertainment Village. On the eastern and southern shores, farther from Suzhou, lie lakefront destinations for more passive recreation and environmental education; these neighborhoods are poetically named Reflection Point, Discovered Island, Mirror's Crossing, and Reflection Gardens.

All the neighborhoods are connected by a continuous walkway along the 14.5-kilometer (nine mi) perimeter of the lake. A variety of hard and soft water edges, created and natural wetlands, and green spaces work together to clean surface water and filter pollutants in agricultural and stormwater runoff. A two-kilometer-long (1.2 mi) vehicular and pedestrian bridge across a bay at the lake's northern end will symbolize the transition from the old to the new Suzhou as the community grows around Jinji Lake and the center of gravity moves eastward from the old city. As more neighborhoods are constructed—three are now complete—Jinji Lake Waterfront will fulfill its master plan as a new town, an economic generator, and a template for environmental sustainability.

The Suzhou Industrial Park was modeled after Jurong Town, an industrial district in Singapore that the former prime minister of China, Deng Xiaoping, visited in 1992, prompting him to invite the country to help the Chinese in establishing a truly global enterprise zone. Though Singapore has retreated to a minority role in the SIP, and the Suzhou region hosts a competing industrial park, the SIP continues to showcase Sino-Singapore cooperation and the global economy, attracting over US$20 billion in contractual investment from 1,888 foreign companies. The Jinji Lake Waterfront project has enhanced the SIP's overall success by adding a recreational and environmental dimension to Suzhou. Already, land values in the waterfront district have increased fourfold, and 2 million visitors from outside Suzhou came to Jinji Lake in 2005.

The Development Team

Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee


Site Statistics

  Acres Hectares
Site Size 1,273 515.2

  Square Feet Square Meters
Office Space 0 0
Retail Space 0 0
Industrial Space 0 0

Residential Units NA
--Single-Family Units NA
--Multifamily Units NA
Hotel Rooms NA
Parking Spaces NA
Max Floors NA
Use Data Status Unknown

* NA = Not Available

Date Started 1998
Date Opened
Date Completed

Project Web Site


Project Street Address

Suzhou, China

Primary Data Source

Award Finalist:Award for Excellence 2006

Other Source(s)