Nanjing Niushoushan Cultural Park

HASSELL: The Nanjing Niushoushan Cultural Park has been established to collectively exhibit and preserve the cultural treasures of Niushou Mountain – a centuries-old sacred Buddhist site in southern Nanjing containing historic monasteries, pagodas, and relics of the Ming Dynasty. HASSELL was invited to develop a master plan for the entire 80-hectare tourist park, and later went on to design the landscape, plazas and connections of the central public domain – establishing a serene welcome for visitors, and a sensitive foundation for future development in the area. The design for Nanjing Niushoushan Cultural Park strives to achieve a dignified balance, between ancient Buddhist traditions and contemporary tourist expectations, in the creation of an immersive landscape experience that is guided by the spirit of Zen, says Andrew Wilkinson, Principal at HASSELL.

“We have researched and interpreted the site’s many special qualities, as well as Buddhist philosophies, to deliver a thoughtfully crafted parkland that will enhance a visitor’s appreciation for life at Niushou Mountain – its culture, historic attractions and breathtaking scenery.”

“The landscape elements and program promote low impact tourism and the value of a lifestyle that’s harmonious with nature,” he said.

Entering the parklands, visitors are visually guided through a series of ‘Zen’ gardens by an interpretive corten steel ‘scripture scroll’ that flows from one space to the next, adapting to the site’s changing landforms. The scroll contains the water of the ‘bright mirror path’ and later opens out to provide a quiet moment to appreciate Bodhidharma’s ‘wall gazing’ meditation. As the pinnacle of the garden tour, the scroll extends along the water to Yinlong Lake plaza. From this point, tourists can take in panoramic views of the lake and mountains, while relaxing in the tranquil environment. The tourist park is carefully structured to maintain the site’s integrity, ensuring its ability to function according to Buddhist doctrines. Viewing platforms and rest points are sensitively embedded, and green infrastructure is integrated to minimise visual and environmental impacts and protect the sights for future generations.

Ultimately all of Niushou Mountain’s highlights, including the newly developed Foding Palace and World Zen Centre, will unfold from the park’s entrance gardens along a series of well-connected, landscaped roads and trails that give preference to pedestrians and cyclists. The public domain of the Nanjing Niushoushan Cultural Park is now open to visitors. The wider parkland development is scheduled for completion in late 2015.

Project name: Nanjing Niushoushan Cultural Park
Location: Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
Landscape Architect: HASSELL
Client: Nanjing Niushoushan Culture Tourism Development Co. Ltd
Scale: Master Plan 80 ha / Phase 1 Public Domain 17.5 ha
Year: Phase 1 completed 2015
Photography: Johnson Lin
Site Plan/Visualisations: HASSELL