In the Chinese city of Suzhou water is everywhere: it covers more than a quarter of the area of the city, flows through the inner city in canals that are, in part, more than two millennia old, and is also an important element in the design of the city’s historical gardens, which today are part of the Unesco world heritage. It is not by chance that in the tourism branch Suzhou is known as the Venice of the East.

But outside the historic centre Suzhou is also a booming four-and-a-half million metropolis that was recently numbered among the fastest growing cities of its size worldwide. The new community centre by Scenic Architecture Office from Shanghai combines both sides of Suzhou, the historic district with its canals and gardens as well as the urban sprawl.