Name of Project: Qinhuangdao Botanic Garden: Landscape as settings
Location: Qinuangdao City, Hebei, China
Project Type: Park
Size: 26.5 Hectares
Landscape Architect: Turenscape (Beijing Turen Design Institute)
Principal designer: Kongjian Yu
Date of Completion: July, 2009
This project recovers the meaning of landscape as “scenes” or “settings” that allow the objects (plants) to be displayed and visitors to play. Qinhuangdao Botanic garden is parks that fulfill multiple functions as a tourism attraction, an environmental and botanical education facility, and as an open space for daily use of the local communities.
The project is located at the Qinhuangdao City, a tourism city at the east coast of Hebei Province of North China’s. Totally 26.5 hectares (about 65.5 acre) in area, the site is a former tree nursery with some existing seedlings, mature trees and roads, and six small factories that went bankrupted a few years earlier which make part of this site become a garbage dump with degraded environment. A botanic garden was proposed to transform this site, which will also connect the green corridor along the Tanghe River that connects the sea with the mountain.
(1) An public open space allowing local communities to visit freely;
(2) A tourism attraction that can increase the capacity of the city as a overcrowded tourism city; and
(3) An educational facility allowing people to learning about the native plants and environment and to be aware of their native landscape.
The main concept is to recover the meaning of landscape as “scenes” or “settings” that allow the plants to be displayed and visitors to play, allowing people to learn while experiencing the pleasant landscape.
Existing trees and landscape elements are carefully evaluated and integrated into the new design: Existing mature trees on site including Jujube (Zizyphus jujuba), Purple vine (Wisteria sinensis), Arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis), Pagoda Trees (Sorphor Japonica) are kept and integrated into the new design, so are many existing seedlings; Major paths of the former nursery are kept because they are lined up with mature trees, which are also integrated into new design.
A series of settings are created to display plants in various ways. Most of the setting is created at the inspirations of the vernacular landscape seen in the region. Some highlights of the park include:
The entrance: The entrance is composed of allies of Gingko trees native to the this region, paved with gravels and black bricks, which are the traditional local material that gives a sense of vernacular. Brick walls are used to define the entrance to the park.
Herb gardens: The black brick walls are used to create four courtyards; screens made of steel beams in red color are used to create visual access between the enclosed courtyards, which create a contemporary sense. Herbs used as Chinese medicine are gown in these courtyards. Granit slates are used for seating and are lined up with planters to create a contemporary pattern..
Jujube court: the courtyard was built around a grove of existing Jujube trees, and a sunken garden was made for people to sit and enjoy the canopy in the summer and abundant fruits from the tress. Again, the traditional material of black bricks is used for the paving to create a sense of vernacular landscape.
The axis of soil: it is the north-south extension of the entrance axis, lined with densely planted the native Chinese Juniper (Juniperus chinensis), and in the center of the axis is a gradient spectrum of various medium types changing from course rock, to sand, loam and fertile soil. Accordingly, dative plants communities are planted which created a spectrum of vegetations that change gradually as visitor walk into the park.
The perennial corridor: Perennial flowers and native grasses, which are seen with high diversity in species in these area, are grown along the meandering corridor that run across the park is one of the major routes for visitors to enjoy the park by foot. Following the board walk, perennial and especially native grasses are grown along the board walk. Seats and shadow casting structure that also support climbing plants are integrated into the design of the corridor. Grasses and plants are planted close to the board so that visitor can feel the texture of the plant, creating an moving through experience.
Orchard fields: As adaptation to the north temperate climate, the regional vernacular landscape in Qinhuangdao area is characterized with fruit orchards on the plain and at slopes. In this section of the park, Peach, Apples, Pear, Almonds, Walnuts, etc. are grown in terraces that are leveled based on the existing topography. Shrubs and flowers are used as the undercover of the fruit orchard, which will blossom before the fruit tress turn into green. Detail design elements, such as subtle difference of elevation, the use of bright colored fiber glass, are used to dramatize the otherwise monotonous landscape.
The valley: an artificial valley is designed that cuts through a man made mound (maximum 5 meters high) to display the geological stratum made of different kind of rocks. It is a depiction of the local mountainous landscape. Associated plant communities are planted in the valley and on the mound. Bridges are built on the top of the mound that allow people to have an unique experience of walling above the valley.
The hills: At the north end of the park, a series of geometric hills are built using the garbage dump from the site, that screen of the cold wind in the winter from the north so that a comfortable microclimate is created for the plants and visitors in the park.
The Crane Pavilions: Inspired by the cranes which are common seen in the river corridor nearby, several pavilions are designed as shadow casting structures that will also support climbing plants. Normally they are in white color, but the five on the top of the hills are in red with intention to attract attention of visitors who can see from far way.
Using contemporary design strategies, the Qinhuangdao Botanic Garden is designed as an experiential landscape that created different settings or “scenes” sequentially, allowing visitors to have unique experiences in different setting during the process of walking and exploring through the park and learning about the plants and their environment at the same time.
It is a park that serves multiple functions as a tourism attraction, an environmental and botanical education facility, and as an open space for daily use of the local communities. After two years since its opening to the public, we proudly say that it was a great success in fulfilling all these objectives.