Framed by majestic mountains and rolling hills, the Chengdu basin has been known since ancient times to be a flat haven for settlements. As Chengdu continues to grow, mountains are no longer a remote backdrop, and for the first time, being brought into the city’s bustling foreground. Tianfu City is such a new community that couples urban living and scenic mountain settings.
The project site offered rich topography with ponds and brooks dotting the ravines. However, due to years of farming and lacking proper forest management, the site was in dire need for landscape and ecology restoration. Tianfu City leveraged the development opportunity to create an ecological, authentic and immersive landscape.
The project sets four overarching goals: 1. create a public park to explore and showcase Chengdu’s mountainous terrain and vernacular landscapes; 2. restore a healthy aquatic ecology by improving existing waterways and drainages, and re-establish a ‘blue & green’ network; 3. preserve and reintroduce native species to foster a diverse flora and fauna; 4. provide a wide range of outdoor activities and immersive landscape experiences that engage residents and visitors with nature.
Based on the topographic analysis, the site is divided into two interconnected neighbourhoods, the North Valley and the South Valley, each with its own distinct characteristics. Meandering brooks and a series of terracing wetlands converge into two scenic lakes. Riparian buffers between development and waterways prevent soil erosion and help ensure water quality in the lakes.
Upon entering the site, one navigates through bamboo groves, undulating stone walls, a tea pavilion, and reticulated brick walls before arriving at the first view of the lake, the humpback bridge across the water, and a natural mountain backdrop.
Red sandstone is an abundant local material widely used in traditional buildings and farmsteads. Inspired by this simple yet distinctive material design of the stone wall creates strong visibility along the busy city road and helps mitigate traffic noise. Its undulating profile accentuates the rolling terrain and offers a contemporary flavor to this otherwise obsolete material in the locals’ eyes.
A playscape comprised of three themed zones, Hill Adventure Park, Water Adventure Park, and Field Adventure Park, encourages children to experience nature and develop their love for outdoor adventures.
“The Cloud” of the Hill Adventure Park
Like a cloud floating above the park, the 25-meter long by 13-meter tall play structure at the peak of the hill is a netted maze supported by steel structures, where children explore three-dimensional challenges and gain a fresh perspective of the park from above. “The Cloud” is in itself a visual highlight, an artful reflection on the lake, and a beacon at dusk.
“The Ripple” of the Water Adventure Park
Every child is a merry ‘raindrop’ where their cheerful footsteps create dynamic ‘ripples.’ Constructed with layers of thin granite, a large rippling pool takes center stage of the Water Adventure Park, where children can wade in the pool and play with the ever-changing ripples.
“The Maze” of the Field Adventure Park
The Maze draws inspiration from a Chinese folk song lyrics – “when the wind gently blows through tall grasses, cows and sheep emerge.” Gusts of wind make wavy patterns in the meadow where children can wander and play. Boardwalks and pea stone paths snake through the meadow and lead children to explore nature as their curiosity takes over.
Phase 1 of the Tianfu City opened in the fall, 2019 and has instantly become a magnet for the residents nearby and visitors from afar.
Name of the project: Chengdu Tianfu City Landscape
Project category: Public Project
Role of the entrant in the project: Prime Landscape Architect
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (if any): A&N Design, BSED, and RSAA/Büro Ziyu Zhuang (Architect)
Project location: Tianfu Vanke City, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China (Geolocation: 104.059826°N, 30.160467°E)
Design year: 2019
Year Built: 2019