The Cloud Paradise Park is an edutainment neighborhood park by the lakeside in the Luxe Lake Eco-city in Chengdu, China. The park occupies 5.5-acre linear waterfront of a 1,000-acres storm-water treatment retention lake constructed for the Luxe Lake Eco-city. We took a step further from the conventional approach and transformed the passive lakeside green space to an interactive outdoor museum of nature. In this project, beyond to create an enjoyable space or restore ecosystem passively, the landscape design plays a role to raise public awareness of the environment and helps to establish a sustainable relationship between the human and nature. Embracing the precious environment, through a series of participatory recreational components, the landscape educates the public of the preciousness of water. By implementing a series of design, educational and ecological strategies, the park integrates the environmental education into diversified playful experience. Since its completion, the Cloud Paradise Park as an inclusive park has become an irreplaceable destination for the families in the neighborhood in their daily life and the schools across the city for the field trips.
-Water crisis and the traditional wisdom of water management in the region
In Chengdu, China, where the Cloud Paradise Park is located, the people have heavily depended on and lived with water side by side for more than 2,000 years. Here, water is a fundamental element in the livelihood both ecologically and culturally. China and elsewhere in the world alike, are facing increasing water crisis from fresh water shortage to water pollution. While most of the new developments in the region have disregarded the rich wisdom of how to live with water in the tradition and largely ignored the topography and hydrology characteristics of the land, the Luxe Lake Eco-city took a different approach. Based on the topography of the site, a dendritic lake larger than 1,000 acres was constructed as part of the infrastructure. The body of water has effectively managed the storm-water and reestablished a healthy ecosystem. The lake has also become a major landscape attraction for the new development. It sets a successful and replicable example of how to treasure water and the possibility of harmonious relationship between human habitat with the nature.
-Programming and telling the story of water
Most of the residents at the Luxe Lake Eco-City and the vicinity are new. While it is necessary for the landscape architect to provide enjoyable public space to foster the community bonding, it is an opportunity to experiment and advance such bonding through new approach. We wanted the project beyond a merely pleasant greenspace, yet educational, environmentally conscious, inclusive, inspiring and to tell the story of water that is one of the roots of the region. Water is the pivotal theme when we programmed the site with a series of playgrounds. The playgrounds are designed as nodes for different age groups. Each of them tells a specific story of water. For instances, the white cloud-like trampoline tells the story of cloud; an interactive fountain tells the story of rainfall; a meandering creek tells the story of river; a semi-circle concrete slide tells the story of snow; a mirror corridor tells the story of glacier; a custom designed and fabricated play structure tells the story of ripple; and a wading pool tells the story of lake and pond. As the Cloud Paradise Park is planned as a network to connect all these nodes, through the park the people could experience a full story of water and establish a sense and relationship with water and nature.
-Working with existing lake shoreline and topography
The Cloud Paradise Park is based on and inspired by the already established 1,000-acre lake. It is important to respect and minimize the impact to the existing environment, yet to transform the existing condition with purpose. With careful studies of the structures, the topography and the ecosystem that are already in place, we designed a series of landscape nodes along the linear lakefront to provide a variety of activities and educational opportunities as suitable for the specifics. We utilized the technique of shallow relief to transform a 5-meter wide hard pavement to a meandering creek, yet still meets the fire code for the firetruck corridor. The mirror corridor is designed to utilize the existing retaining walls; the semi-circle slide is based on the existing slope; and an existing dysfunctional water feature was restored as a 3-dimentional world map water table.
-A park that encourages interactivity between people and landscape
It is common that in a playground, the children are playing under the accompanied adults’ watch but not joined with. Here in the Cloud Paradise Park, we want to encourage interactivity and participation between people and landscape as well as between children and adults. The park and the facilities are designed based on this idea. At the fountain plaza, four custom stationary bicycles are installed. The bicycles are designed with special mechanism to connect the paddling movement and the fountain heads embedded in the plaza. The water will jet out through fountain heads when the bicycle is paddled and the water volume reflects the speed of the paddling. In the wading pool, seven touch pad sensors are embedded in a stone table at the side of the pool. As each pad is connected to a fountain head in the pool, by touching the pad the corresponding fountain head will be active. At the mirror corridor, a series of motion detect sensors are installed along the passageway. Walking through the passageway will trig the sensors to make water dripping sound. These installations are not only interactive but also encourage people to play in pairs.
-Integrated design and fabrication
It has always been a difficult task to maintain the consistency during the construction with the original design intention due to various reasons such as available construction techniques, budget limitation and the quality of materials and construction. For the Cloud Paradise Park project, we explored the design-build method for the critical components that are in high complexity. An in-house art workshop with a team of artists, designers, engineers and contractors is established to take on the task. The critical components were fabricated in the workshop and installed on site. It is proved that this method is effective to improve quality of the construction, reduce the cost and achieve higher consistency with the original design intention. This hand-on method also offers the design team more and essential liberty to explore innovative design ideas.
-Museum-like management for a park
As the park is designed for the people to experience, the park itself should be adaptive and willing to evolve in accordance to the users’ comments and changing needs. We joined the management of the Cloud Paradise Park to embrace this concept that has been widely implemented in the museum management. Prior to its opening to the public, we invited fourteen families to try out all programs in the park. Their feedback and experience become crucial for us to make necessary adjustments and develop an adaptive maintenance strategy. Afterwards, the park has welcomed 2,000 visitors per day and by appointment only. The management continues to conduct user experience survey and update the strategies and maintenance with us accordingly. This method and our continual involvement assure a high-quality museum of nature and a safe, inspiring park to public.
Entrant office name: Z+T Studio Landscape Architecture
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architecture design consultant
Lead Designer: Dong Zhang, Ziying Tang
PROJECT LEADER: Qing Zhang
PROJECT TEAM: Min Xu, Xiao Zhou, Yang Peng, Qi Xi, Xinjun Gu, Qi Wang,
Shaohao Bian, Jialin Zheng, Hongchao Liu, Chuan Sun, Yanjie Fan, Yihao Hu
STRUCTURES: Z+T Art Workshop
Project location (Street, City, Country): Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Design year: 2016-2017
Year Built: 2017