Duke’s new Chinese campus sits atop a manmade lake


As part of Duke University’s 200-acre global campus in Kunshan, China, the 30-acre first phase of Duke Kunshan University Campus includes five buildings that sit atop a manmade lake and are interconnected by low bridges and seasonal plazas.

The plazas are submerged underneath the water and are only revealed and usable during periods of low rainfall, which coincides with peak student attendance. A four-acre water ecosystem is the central landscape element of the new campus and includes a stormwater management system with point-source water filtration, roof gardens, rain gardens, living water gardens, greywater capture, and aquatic habitat creation.



“The entire water filtration system serves as an ecological education lab with a flowing water garden located at the end,” said Kevin Vogel, PE, Partner and Civil Engineer with LandDesign, in a release. “The design also addresses scalable energy alternatives to correspond with the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment for carbon neutrality.”

Primary gathering spaces feature movable benches, planters, and sculptures in order to accommodate large events, art installations, and social/learning space. Gensler is the project’s architect while LandDesign is handling landscape architecture and civil engineering duties.