©Concepto- Juliette MARICOURT-Riou Noémie

Illuminating the Qian Tang River with a Blend of Light and Dark Infrastructure

Header: ©Concepto- Juliette MARICOURT-Riou Noémie

The Qian Tang River, a 235-kilometer waterway winding through Hangzhou, China, is not just a river but a vital element of the city’s identity and environment. The recent lighting masterplan for the Qian Tang River, designed by CONCEPTO to highlight its unique features and maintain ecological balance, shows the city’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty while enhancing its urban appeal.

The Qian Tang River flows through a high-density urban area before transitioning into a greener landscape. The challenge was to illuminate this iconic river while safeguarding its ecological well-being. This required a delicate balance between light and darkness. The concept of “clear/dark” was embraced, creating dark areas between cities along the river to preserve ecological zones, floodplains, and other areas of environmental importance.

©Concepto- Noémie RIOU
©Concepto- Noémie RIOU

The lighting plan drew inspiration from the rich heritage of Chinese art. Specifically, it was influenced by the Yuan dynasty paintings of landscapes, with a focus on the work of Huan Gongwang. These paintings use light to reveal and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape with touches of color. This artistic influence is evident in the lighting design along the river. Each section of the river is given a unique colored atmosphere, adapting to the topography, relief, and the different uses of the areas along the river. The result is a lighting scheme that seamlessly integrates with the environment, making the river even more beautiful at night.

The Qian Tang River is not just a natural wonder but also a bustling urban center. Various infrastructures, including promenades, public spaces, and spurs, punctuate the river’s course. These urban amenities have been thoughtfully illuminated, not only enhancing their functionality but also adding to the overall aesthetic appeal of the area. The thoughtful integration of lighting transforms the river into a vibrant and inviting place for both residents and visitors.

This project by CONCEPTO serves as an exemplary model for the world, illustrating how cities can celebrate their natural assets and create an environment where nature and urban life coexist in harmony.

©Concepto- Noémie RIOU
©Concepto- Noémie RIOU

CONCEPTO has been practicing lighting design in France and around the world for more than 30 years. The studio Works in planning and construction to foster the use of space at night and properly deal with nighttime, which represents 50% of our yearly time. Concepto designs light-urbanism projects, nocturnal landscapes, and urban, architectural, and heritage site lighting.