Wanzhou, China




6600 ha


International Urban Design Competition


Competition 2nd prize


Chongqing Wanzhou Bureau of planning and natural resources


Martin Arfalk, Patrick Verhoeven, Chuhan Zhang, Shan Jiang, Yunxin Du, Qilin He, Jialin Wu, Jan Wańczyk


China Architecture Design & Research Group (CADG), VRAP

MANDAWORKS joined CADG and VRAP to participate in the international planning and urban design competition for Wanzhou Jiangwan New Town in the Municipality of Chongqing. ‘Water Draping City’ masterplan was awarded second prize.

Jiangwan New Town: Water Draping City

The people of Wanzhou have a deep and successful history of creating urban environments that achieve mutual prosperity between humans and nature. The ancient city was shaped in harmony with the mountainous terrain on which it was built. The sloping landscape, dynamic river banks, and fluctuating seasonal water levels imprinted on the city's culture, spatial forms and landscape development. 


The 'Water Draping City' concept celebrates these historical relationships. Embracing the City's high-value riverbank, sloping landscape, and rich cultural context, finding inspiration from the combination of Wanzhou’s traditional mountainside urbanity and the site's existing gorges and ravines. The result is a compact and multi-layered urban structure that embraces the existing valleys and waterways and opens up the Yangtze River Bank with accessible connections and a sequence of exciting riverside moments. 


The concept is organised around three core strategies “Embrace the Valleys and Waterways”, “Connect the City with the context”, and “Create diverse Wanzhou experiences". The strategies work together to create a resilient and socially vital urban structure rooted in the traditional urban forms and close connection with the site's landscape.


Ecology: Embrace the valleys and waterways

Vibrancy: Connect the city with its context

Culture: Create diverse Wanzhou experiences

Water Draping City

Water Draping City is a compact and multi-layered urban structure that embraces the existing valleys and waterways and opens up the Yangtze River Bank with accessible connections and a sequence of exciting riverside moments.

Embrace the valleys and waterways

Connect the city with its context

Create diverse Wanzhou experiences


Embrace the valleys and waterways

Due to the construction of the three gorges dam megaproject, the riverbank site is affected by a 30-meter water level fluctuation zone. The storage and discharge of water associated with the dam has resulted in an urgent ecological challenge for the area. Large amounts of surface runoff, typical in mountainous regions, cause rare but severe flood events. 

The Water Draping City tackles this issue with the creation of an urban drainage corridor that utilises an existing natural waterway and ridge network to create a connected greenway system within the Jiangwan New Town area. To alleviate flooding, the riverbank is reshaped, local landscape restored and shoreline reconstructed to accommodate and lessen the impact of the highly dynamic water levels.


Connect the city with its context

Historically, the ties between the settlements, mountains and the river were very close. However, the rapid development of towns has gradually decreased the accessibility of waterfront spaces. At the same time, dense and insensitive urban structures threaten the natural mountain landscapes. To counterbalance these trends, the new structure must seek a balance between human and non-human needs. Visual connections are persevered through surrounding landscapes by protecting key view corridors. The corridors are brought to life with a continuous walkway and public space system that create an adaptive relationship between the new built form and the site's landscape.

Create a diverse Wanzhou experience

The future of Wanzhou lies in establishing connections to the Yangtze River and opening up the banks to enable the revival of everyday 'life by the water' of Jiangwan residents.  
 A generous walking and biking path system organized within three themes of ‘Embracing Mountains’, ‘Blending into the City’ and ‘Facing Water’ connects the hilly slopes, architectural landmarks, cultural nodes, residential communities, and riverbank. 
 When combined with the natural greenways, these connections create an entirely new network of diverse experiences in and around Jiangwan New Town. Accessible and public, these spaces and pathways extend a generous invitation to the river to all who live nearby.

Resilient design

Located between the river and mountains, the Jiangwan New Town will integrate the existing water network into a circular water system, enabling sustainable use and implementing resilient solutions to alleviate and prevent flooding.

A future city rooted in its past

Jiangwan New Town will be a city rooted in the tradition of the place, combining contemporary urban life with historical habits of living by the water, and by doing so reconnecting a lost sense of historical continuity.

Diverse Wanzhou experience

Celebrating its landscape, Jiangwan New Town provides exciting urban life for its inhabitants throughout different seasons, day- and night-time.