The project is located in Shunde District, Guangdong Province in the south of China. The city is prospered by water, and boats play still an important role in people’s daily live and livelihood, and therefore have a strong regional cultural symbolic meaning. The project fully taps the local natural resources and traditional culture, and uses the landscape to interpret the stories created by boats and rivers in the history of Shunde. What the designers hope to create is a very differentiated contemporary urban ecological space that is open to the public and has Shunde’s unique natural landscape characteristics and cultural connotations.
Surrounded by the urban interface, the site was a remaining plot with abandoned fish ponds and sparse trees, and swamp cypresses were the most characteristic native plants. As a starting point for the design, the landscape architects decided to respect the given conditions, and retain the original natural attributes of the site, the water, the terrain and use the height difference and plant resources to design the flexibility of ecology for fluidity and permeability. It presented an organic art experience in a state of natural growth.
It protected the public interests by preserving and developing existing nature assets. It has become a resource and link in the city that everyone can enjoy equally, demonstrating social justice and progress. That is where the social value of landscape architecture lies.
Shunde District has the reputation of “the hometown of dragon boats in China”, and the dragon boat culture has a long history of over 2000 years in South China to avert misfortune and encourage rains for prosperity. This project adapts measures to local conditions, complies with the original layout of swamp cypresses, and adopts modern design techniques to design and interpret the dragon boat culture.
The landscape design gives full play to the public attributes of the site, pays attention to people’s participation, continues the Shunde water system, and creates a dragon boat life theater to explore, to sit in and reflect, to watch nature, and be part. As both an “ecological park”, it has no towering walls and clear boundaries, and has become an all-weather community park full of vitality.
The original environment of the site is relatively complex, inheriting various functions and legacies at the time of assignment: partly abandoned fishponds and green land, urban water channels and transformed urban park zones along the canal. The landscape architects selectively analyzed and designed according to the characteristics of the site context. More than 100 native trees were preserved or replanted on site to make better use as shade trees for water and park zones.
With the co-creation of multiple disciplines working on the project at the same time to finish the job, we pushed the boundaries to integration of interior and exterior, resolve space constraints, and maximized the realization of space and land value.
Based on the design principles of respecting the site and original beauty, combined with the memory of the preserved vegetation, new species and communities are integrated to create a new experience. Underwater vegetation and surface flow wetlands are constructed in the whole lake zone, to cultivate the self-purification ability of water bodies, and pursue a landscape strategy of “low maintenance cost and high operation efficiency”.
In the process, we paid attention to the use of environmentally friendly materials that are easy to maintain and have good durability, such as to control the load on the environment caused by building materials to a minimum. For example, the earthwork was kept to a minimum and the existing water bodies were integrated, so as to create soil balance on site.
In addition to the beauty and ecological improvement at the visual level, it also proposes effective methods and strategies to protect natural landscapes and resolve conflicts between man and land, reflecting the ability of landscape to solve complex social and economic problems and promote policies, and bears witness to the benign and responsible development process of a region.
Architecture offices involved in the design: The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co., Ltd.
Project location: Shunde District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province, China
Design year: 2022
Year Built: 2022