Haishu Waterfront

How can data help cities design for 21st-century challenges?

Ningbo, China
Construction Documentation

Contemporary Chinese cities are facing new challenges. As the country’s urban centers expand and districts continue to rise on previously vacant land, traditional development strategies are proving outdated. Buildings designed to address immediate needs do not necessarily create neighborhoods that support long-term growth, and the fast-expanding cities threaten to sprawl if new districts do not integrate with the surrounding landscapes and urban fabric.

To overcome these challenges, CAZA designed Haishu Waterfront district using a forward-looking analytical and data-driven approach. Located on an island in Ningbo, one of China’s largest port cities, the district is based on a fine-grain modular grid that enhances the city’s existing road network and orients the new district towards its waterfronts.


With the conclusions from data analyses, CAZA developed a modular urban grid that enhances regional connectivity and provides the conditions for a livable mixed-use community. A network of open green space extends from a riverfront park to the east to the canal on Haishu’s western edge. Three primary roads—a commercial avenue, green avenue, and waterfront avenue—define centers of public life. These are intersected by large roadways that connect Haishu to the surrounding city. Secondary roads and alleys throughout bolster connectivity within the district and give rise to a fine-grain street pattern that ensures lively and walkable streets.


The design of Haishu’s urban grid is based on comprehensive analyses of regional conditions. Road and subway accessibility studies informed the layout and distribution of streets, allowing them to improve connectivity throughout the city and alleviate congestion on overworked roadways. By analyzing local real estate transactions, CAZA developed zoning and density strategies that respond to demand for residential and commercial space—ensuring the new development works with the surroundings to create a functional urban ecosystem.


The masterplan creates a rich sense of local identity and community life centered on Haishu’s unique waterfront setting. Destinations like an Ecology Educational Center, Sports Club, and Ecological Park activate the waterfront and draw visitors from throughout the city. These are complemented by public amenities further inland, including a canal-side shopping mall and hotel and convention center.

  • SIZE: 12,540,763 SQF
  • PROJECT TEAM: Carlos Arnaiz, Minkyung Song