Floating Clouds is a public garden with the theme of art, modernity, and nature. As a sanctuary of the mind in the bustling city, it energises with its unique dimension, activating city and community life with functionality and spirit. Art can be abstract and ambiguous. When art is installed in landscape, we want it to serve purpose for the city, with social value, and not just beauty. The artistic value of installations is not just about sculptures or structures, but innovative response to site characteristics and needs. From the interpretation of functionality to the atmosphere of detailed expression, the design resonate with hearts and feelings.
As the pioneer of urban greenery, Floating Cloud could become an example of utilization of fragmented green space, and a flag bearer of design innovation among nature.
Art and Construction
Chongqing is a city with a lot of forests on hills and mountains. Floating Clouds is a garden up the hillside. With an area of about 1800 square meters, it serves as the entrance to the front courtyard of the Art Centre. Pedestrian path extends in east-west direction, while the garden has a higher elevation in the north, with a slope of 30 degrees. This makes the design and construction of the garden challenging. Hollow steel structure was chosen to preserve original terrain and increase functionality. It also brought down construction difficulties. Pre-molded steel bridge platform structure was assembled on site piece by piece. Surely, precision is an engineering necessity.
Art and Humanity
The space at the entrance of the garden is divided into three levels of platforms, utilising the elevation of the terrain. Level one allows arrival by car. One level below provides opportunity for walking and the space for looking far into the distance. Two levels down is the closest to ground garden. It serves as a balcony for thoughts and meditation. Stairs and accessible ramps connect the three platforms. The space between the platforms and architectures are surrounded by big tallow trees, creating a natural enchantment. A winding white bridge is like a string of clouds, connecting the second level platform and the buildings. Walking on the zigzag bridge within the woods, you feel the breeze under the trees and the caress of leaves over your forehead. Look down you see the natural greenery of the garden, and you will be wow-ed by the generous open space after you walk through the trees. Art converses with nature here, while affection is the blood of art.
A pond is added in front of the Art Centre, as if a hovering mirror. The cloud bridge floats above the water scene, and extends into the building. The placid water surface mirrors the woods and sky, and provides precious source of water for birds and other wild animals. A screen of water extends from the pond, cutting through the terrace of the Art Centre and the botanical garden.
Despite human involvement, nature has been preserved and can continue to growth with minimum interference from human. The system we lay over nature managed to stay human, delicate, and modern. From construction materials – steel, glass, and aluminum, to workmanship, the project pursued dialogue with nature, and reflects on the relationship between nature and humanity, art and life – beyond superficial imitation of nature.
Art and Ecosystem
The botanical garden on the lower slope is a great exhibition of the biodiversity of Southwestern China, not only highlighting the aesthetics and biological value of local flora, but also creating a landscape with upper level trees that changes with seasons. Through collaboration with botanists, the designers carefully curated more than 50 kinds of local shrubs, ferns, grasses, and wildflowers that thrive under trees. So no matter visitors enjoy the scenery from the platforms at the entrance of the garden, looking down from the cloud bridge, or walking through the lower level botanical garden, they will all feel the healing effect of the greenery and grace of the garden.This is precisely the relation between human and nature that we want to achieve– shadow of woods, leaves in the wind, nature in the wild, and human-we are the floating clouds that share the same frame with the mountains and forests.
Art and Value
Floating Clouds as a small scale garden has created vast attraction from the art of landscaping. Every month of 2020 saw visitors across China arriving to experience. We hope the immersive landscape project could become an example of green space between city and community, and showcase the charm of innovation in a natural setting.
Landscape contractor: Sohan Eco
Landscape Signage: Boxi Signage
Photography: Wang Ning 、 Holi & Boxi
Architecture offices involved in the design (if any):
Architecture Design: Challenge Design
Project location: Jade Carvings,Qiucheng Avenue,Yubei District, Chongqing, China
Design year: 2019
Year Built: 2020
Entrant name: Change Studio