As the origin of the Yellow River civilization, Fangding village region represents an excellent ancient construction method- integrating courtyard-houses and cave-dwellings into natural earth walls and mountains, which is the critical philosophy that influenced the design.
The Cultural Center project’s design aims to memorize the site’s historical relics and frame a vivid green park for villagers’ outdoor activities. The site is on the top of a hillside consisted of three main terrace tiers retained by two existing earth walls adjacent to the lake with 28 meters elevation change. The design challenges are to arrange the programs based on the principles of presenting the premium north lake view, buffering the east flooding channel, preserving the existing earth walls and terrains best, and creating an artistic space echoing with its native culture, history, and residents’ spiritual and social needs. The visitor center, the grove plaza, and the cultural center are arranged from top-down along the existing three terrace tiers to fit and preserve the topography. The earth walls are kept intact as the natural buffering of the east existing flooding channel.
The entrance landscape creates a series of garden spaces throughout the visitor center pavilion. The native ginkgo tree rows create a 30-meter roadside parameters buffer. A linear water feature is placed next to the pavilion under the trees, with exquisite water sprouts enlivening the space with water rhythms. Clusters of fountain grasses and Chinese silver grasses are planted throughout the site to create seasonal variations. Several rustic rocks collected from the existing site lay on the gravels between the grasses, witnessing the site changes over the years.
Visitors need to pass a 50-meter-long corridor right by the existing earth wall before entering the lower grove plaza. A metal wall with openings is elevated to protect the earth wall and the corridor’s passengers as a memorial experience. After the corridor, visitors will arrive at the zelkova grove plaza and its adjacent reflecting pond in front of two retaining earth walls with a middle vista view opening. A descending stairway leading toward the lower cultural center terrace submerges into the reflecting pond and faces the monumental view opening. It creates a mystic and exceptional experience to merge with the existing site features while resolved the 10-meter elevation difference between terraces on the route.
The lowest terrace’s cultural center is enclosed with the lake by the earth wall behind, making it more exclusive to the vistas and calming it with a sense of peace. The earth walls are fully preserved and integrated with the new building’s structure. Its texture blends in with the black asphalt field, the dark-grey flagstone paving, and the lush grass clusters in the landscape. A zig-zag sloped corridor links the building toward the lake trail through the shoreline’s steep topography. The plant design keeps consistency with the existing shoreline meadow and preserves the lake’s best view by scattering small tree clusters selectively.
The landscape elements respect the vernacular texture by using native rock and straw mixed walls. It is adaptive to the climate by keeping moisture away in winter as this region’s most traditional landscape wall construction method. Deciduous trees are selected to create cool summer shade and open to warm winter sunlight that best fits China’s north climate. The under canopy grasses species are all low-maintenance and suitable for slope stabilization. The visitor center and the grove plaza are designed to minimize construction’s earthwork through re-using the existing foundation at the existing abandoned buildings’ location. The rainwater from the building’s rooftop is collected into water features and re-used for irrigation after filtration.
Fangding Cultural Center has been serving the community for two years and will keep prospering as the center of villagers’ education, cultural gathering, and whole family activities. The project respectfully responds to the site’s cultural heritage and exceptional topography footprints in the ambiance of serenity and rustic elegance. It rebuilds the villager’s cultural confidence and stimulates the thriving of native culture in space-making during the rapid urbanization process in suburban China.
Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: A&N+
Architecture offices involved in the design: Qiyue Architects
Project location): Huaiyang Rd & Wuyun Rd, Shangjie District, Zhengzhou, Henan, China