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Together with a canal water system cleaning effort, the project transformed 6.4 acres of a forgotten old town littered with structurally unsafe buildings into a culturally-rich urban green space and popular waterfront district in Changde, Hunan Province, China. Laoximen (meaning Old West Gate) sets a precedent and benchmark for urban renewal, reclaiming a historic canal and the adjacent streets for new use. The project promotes the timely principles of urban regeneration, adaptive re-use, historic preservation, and ecological sustainability, whilst avoiding the current practice in China of demolition and radical reconstruction.

After 100 years of tumultuous history, including WWII and the Cultural Revolution, the project’s goal was to rejuvenate the site as a modern metropolis, maintaining links with its history through design and preservation of on-site materials. Innovation and preservation come together to establish an urban core and waterfront corridor for people, plants and wildlife. In addition to providing valuable open space, Laoximen has become an economic generator for the neighborhood, attracting investment toward new retail, commercial, and residential development.



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