The Bund, Rebounded

The Bund, a 1.8-kilometer-long boulevard along the west bank of Shanghai’s Huangpu River, has been restored as the city’s preeminent public space.

In the late 19th century, the Bund was the financial center of Asia. Bank buildings and customs houses, built in grand Beaux-Arts style by British, American and other Western powers, symbolized Shanghai’s economic might. But by the 1990s, the Bund had become choked by a 10-lane highway that separated the city from the river and its waterfront promenade — and its history.

In preparation for the 2010 Expo, the city held an international design competition to restore the Bund to its former greatness. NBBJ’s solution: to bury six lanes of traffic in an underground tunnel, creating a safer pedestrian environment and widening the existing waterfront promenade. The public space connects back to the city along side streets, to integrate the waterfront with the rest of Shanghai. Built atop a floodwall with integrated parking, the promenade doubles as both recreation space and vital infrastructure.

Today grandeur has been restored to the Bund, with landscaping, installations, plazas, grand steps and pavilions unfurling beneath the historic skyline that made Shanghai famous. At all hours of the day, tourists and residents alike relax, picnic, play or simply stroll along a waterfront that connects old and new China.

Video: Principles for Urban Waterfronts

Awards and Publications


Cityscape Awards for Architecture In Emerging Markets, Special Award, Master Planning
MIPIM Asia, Best Urban Regeneration Project, Gold Award


Surface Magazine, "Public Purpose," June 12, 2013
BBC Travel, "The regeneration of Shanghai’s Bund," December 23, 2011
The Telegraph, "Shanghai reopens Bund after £280m restoration," March 26, 2010
World Architecture News, "Redesign of Shanghai Bund restores grandeur to famous Huangpu District," July 26, 2010