A green project on the mainland won an international architectural prize on the first day of the World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday.
The Sanlihe Greenway in Qianan city, Hebei province, designed by a Beijing-based architecture firm, was named World Landscape Project of the Year.
Dubbed 'a mother river recovered', the urban ecological corridor transformed a former garbage dump and sewage-drainage facility into an ecological landscape and habitat for vegetation.
It also integrates pedestrian and bicycle paths, which are used for both recreation and commuting, while catalysing urban development, according to the WAF website.
Located along the Sanli River in Hedong district, the greenway covers 135 hectares and spans 13.4 kilometres across the city.
It ranges from 100 to 300 metres wide, and the Qianan government spent 630 million yuan (HK$769 million) and more than three years designing and constructing it, from early 2007 to May last year.
This project included replacing sewage pipes, which had previously discharged directly into the Sanli River, with a passive natural filtration system. Water from the Luan River was also diverted, and the ecological landscape was reconstructed.
Professor Lu Bin, director of the School of Environmental Science's Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Peking University, said the landscape reconstruction performed was a good example of what can be accomplished if an urban river isn't severely polluted.
'It's better to combine ecological landscape reconstruction with environmental engineering to treat severe river pollution,' he said.
Turenscape, the Beijing architecture firm, undertook the design of the project after it won a bid from the Qianan Construction Bureau in 2007.
Professor Yu Kongjian, president of Turenscape and dean of Peking University's Graduate School of Landscape Architecture, said one of the main obstacles during the project was convincing local governments to co-operate on the project, and then co-ordinating with them.
Qianan city is dubbed 'Steel City' for its production of the metal.
The Luan River had become badly polluted by sewage and waste products that resulted from continuous industrial development and urban population growth since the 1970s.
Its water quality declined drastically and the Sanli River dried up as its channel became blocked by waste.