Z+T Studio was founded by Dong Zhang and Ziying Tang in Shanghai in 2009. Since then the uniquely diverse work the firm completed has ranged from city furniture, ASLA award-winning research center to master planning. Z+T Studio’sportfolio has gained solid and critical reputation for the firm for its ingenious, yet original landscape design answers to the projectsand sites.
Considering landscape architecture’s social and psychological impact to people’s sense of well-being, Z+T Studio is interested in making a place where the fundamental natural landscape elements and principles could integrate and optimize the increasingly urbanized environment for the inhabitants. By inviting and encouraging people’s participation and exchange among themselves and nature, the placeis cultivated and enriched by the site’s cultural associations. Z+TStudio approaches to the project by seeking the understanding of the particulars of each site, program of each project and the context. As design always encompasses these understandings with the designers’ evolving sensitivities to nature, life and society, the landscape connects people to the physical and social environment.
Zhang and Tang’s extensive academic and practicing experience both in the US and China laid the unique foundation for the firm to embrace the perspectives and sensitivities of West and East. Guided by the two founding principals, the firm emphasizes focused, intimate and multi-disciplinary collaboration. Countering the over growing and quantity dominating trend in China’s design field, Z+T Studio has resisted the commercialization of the practice and kept moderate size of atelier. The commitment is enabled by its atelier design intelligence, culture and the team members including landscape architects, architects, urban planners, artists, horticultural specialists and ecologists.
Every design starts with research and daring ideas. In order to better develop the ideas, Z+T Studio has founded and integrated an Art Workshop and a Biophilic Lab. The workshop has significantly expanded the design capacity utilizing innovative materials and tectonics. The workshop’s capacity in making full-scale mockups, testing and production has guaranteed the quality and consistency of the final deliverables. The Biophilic Lab offers research and analysis in soil, water, vegetation and ecology of the project site and the proposed design. It is essential to ensure the projects beyond superficial style or merely form oriented. The workshop and lab are both pivot supports to the implementation of the design and maintenance of the project after the completion.
The 1.4-hectare neighborhood park is located in the suburb of Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province. The site is in the center of a new 18.8-hectare high-density community to accommodate approximately 10,000 new residents. The landscape architect was given an opportunity to develop a comprehensive, yet detailed strategy for a communal park to address two challenges: 1, Environmental sustainability. 2, Compacted Multifunctional Recreational Open Space.
Z+T Studio has applied the following techniques to deal with the challenges:
1)An innovative multi-functional stormwater treatment system is introduced into the park. It integrates various open spaces that people can observe and interact with the water treatment process. 2)An inclusive design of the playground offers activities for wide range of age groups. It balances people’s recreation needs and environmental quality. The playground with slides, climb walls, sand pit and big insect toys is designed at the edge of the protected hill. With a mindful, yet playful design of “wood carpet”, the edge of forest becomes a landscape for gathering, sharing, and family time for the community. 3)A signage system not only provides basic information, but also illustrates the plants, remediation process and other ecological knowledge for people to understand.
The design of the Hillside Park has achieved a communal space in a high-density community. It has satisfied participatory and ecological functions as well as reestablished the coexisting relationship between people and nature. As it is the practical start of the reconcile process between the intensive urban life and the nature, the project has shed light on a new model for future development encountering similar situation.
By strategically restoring a series of existing large trees and old structure, the project transformed a dysfunctional guesthouse built in the 80s into a new landscape for a boutique hotel. The original structure on the site was a guesthouse with a masonry building constructed in the 1980s. Carefully evaluated existing site condition and structure quality as well as the program of the hotel, Z+T Studio decided to strategically reorganize each courtyard, restore a series of large trees and wall structures on the site and merge them into the new landscape. As the new structures were kept simple and explicit, the restored old elements became the organizer of the spaces and witness of time and history.
One existing wall on the east side of the entry courtyard was entirely preserved to create interesting contrast with the newly built walls. The existing concrete driveway to the building entry was replaced with a central courtyard where a shallow reflecting pool is located.
Sixteen existing trees are preserved and integrated into the four courtyards. The entry yard is designed to accommodate four trees at the front part of the site. Another four camphor trees are located in the main yard. Two of them are “floating” on the top of two “green islands”. The shallow water provides a distance to the visitors, yet a within-a-reach feeling. The four sizeable canopies make substantial green ceiling for the main yard. Rather than merely visual, the “green islands” provide lawn area for activities and also protect the tree root from hard pavement.
Since the completion of the project in 2013, the hotel has become one of the famous renovated boutique resort hotels in the region.
The U-Center is a famous shopping center located at the corner of a crowded intersection next to Wudaokou subway station in Beijing. It is within walking distance to surrounding office buildings & several well-known universities such as Peking Univerisity, Tsinghua University and Beijing Forestry University. Z+T Studio was commissioned to rejuvenate a linear passageway to the east of U-Center building. The goal is to create a dynamic and inviting place for the pedestrians and the people from the nearby neighborhoods to spend quality time there, and the U-Center could benefit from the crowd to open more retail spaces on the east side of the complex.
The design team was inspired by the nickname of the Wudaokou intersection – the Center of the Universe and developed a daring idea of a rotating turntable. It plays like the center of the universe as a forceful focal point of the entire space. This landscape feature breaks down the monotonous feeling of the linear space. The people have started to use the place beyond a passageway. A series of planters and wood benches are placed along the linear water fountain through the site. It invites people to sit down to rest and interact with water features. The 17-meter diameter turntable is placed at the entry of the plaza. It houses partial of the linear water fountain, light fixture and a planter with wood seats. The turntable takes 50 minutes to finish one rotation cycle. The alignment of the part of the fountain on the turntable with the rest of the fountain intrigues the spray of the fountains. The water show lasts for 10 minutes and the turntable will begin another rotating cycle. The 1 hour movement cycle gives unique sense of time on the site. The U-Center Plaza has become a place for people to sit, observe, play with water or simply feel the pass of time. Since the completion of the project, the site has quickly become very popular civic space for the local community. The people come to meet with friends, the family come to play with water and just simply chill in the summer. To experience the rotating turntable and the magic of the sudden spray of water have become a ritual for many locals. The plaza also has served as a platform and stage for fashion shows and performances. The project demonstrates how the unique rotating fountain has animated and transformed a back-of-the house type of passageway to an urban sensation.
Located at Dongguan, China, Vanke Architecture Research Center (VARC) focuses on housing industry related studies. It will become the research base of special architectural material, low-energy consumption methodology and eco-landscape study. Environmental friendly material development is the focus of eco-landscape study, such as the application of precast concrete modules in future real-estate projects, the exploration of different types of pervious materials and plant selection and arrangement etc..
Stormwater management & low maintenance construction material selection will be addressed to practice low maintenance overall in the campus. To achieve to goal of stormwater management, Z+T Studio has designed two “Ripple Gardens” to test run off quantity control and a “Windmill Garden” to test stormwater quality control. Precast concrete (PC ) is selected as a low maintenance construction material. In terms of appearance, the size, color and texture of PC modules are hardly different from those of granite. Meanwhile, the replacement of PC over granite avoids extreme mining. Also, PC is so thick that the concrete slab can be defaulted, and the rain water penetration can be strengthened.
The project was given an ASLA general design award in 2014.
Yueyuan Courtyard is a courtyard of the sale center of a new development at Mudu village of Suzhou city. Z+T Studio was commissioned to design the place merging modern approach and function with oriental aesthetic sensitivity. It is a place depict the elegant design of the upcoming development, as well as a place to make sales of the development. The design team divided the courtyard into two parts: creek garden & lake garden.
Water is the leading design element to links the two gardens together. In the creek garden, the concept of “erosion” inspired the design team to create a creek water feature. The water feature craved out from large granite stone artfully demonstrates the natural process how river goes through land surface for hundreds of years and transforms the land into river valley. When the creek is filled with water, it becomes a linear reflecting pool meandering through the garden. The origin of the creek drips from a carefully designed water table. At the end of the creek, water flews into another reflecting pool that is the main feature in the lake garden. This reflecting pool is larger and shallow , which mirrors the surrounding building and plants. It generates a tranquil as well as meditating atmosphere together with the light poured into the central garden, the shadow from the surrounding building and the sound of water falling from the creek.