Lakeside Garden establishes a harmonious interface between people, nature, and history. The landscape design began with overall site planning, through sculpting the terrain, created a dramatic spatial sequence meandering in a forest hills setting, unfolding a picturesque lakeside journey. The garden creates a journey for the local residents, to wander in andante time, traveling back to the past; to rediscover everyday landscape, cherishing the land.

Site Context

Qiandao Lake, also known as Thousand Island Lake, is a freshwater lake as a result of the construction of Xin’an River Hydroelectric Dam in 1959, with hundreds of local villages resettled down homes around the lake. It is a beautiful lake noted for its crystal clear water, ever-changing sky and numerous rolling hills and verdurous mountains. The unpredictable mistily beauty of fog and light grant the site as a living Chinese landscape scroll.

Lakeside Garden is located on a 1-hectare site with 9 meters of elevation change, between a lakeside scenic drive and the future planned community as well as the neighboring residential communities. Most of the residents have been living here since their grandparents’ generation, they enjoy the lake from early morning to sunset and night. Qiandao Lake also attracts significant amount of new residents and visitors for hiking, camping, and cycling, who are drawn by its unique ever-changing beauty.

The program and design strategy have transformed the 1-hectare site into a dramatic spatial sequence.

As you strolling up the steps, the intimate fragments of Qiandao Lake – ever-changing sky, shimmering lights, breeze and waving native grasses, blend and enrich delicates in every scene of the garden.

1. Tides Plaza
Visitors start to experience the garden from Tide Plaza, a gathering space with waving form. Wind kinetic screen ‘Shining Lake’ creates a welcoming prelude, it also serves as a backdrop for informal performances. Granite stone paving pattern consists of Chinese Sesame Black, Sesame Gray, and Sesame White, reflecting a subtle image of the shining lake.

2. Forest Hill Springs
Stepping up along the water cascades, stainless steel retaining wall draws a subtle reflection of waving plants and water cascades.

3. Garden of Shimmering Lights
Waving grasses and visual art installations attracting shimmering lights, rock fountains…a meandering terraced garden with juxtaposition of natural rustic and refined texture.

4. Silence and Light
A silent space of enclosure, surrounded by historical exhibits of “Underwater Ancient Villages” of Qiandao Lake. Sky light shines down, a hint of the upcoming infinity space. Stepping up the minimalist spiral staircase, the experience gradually unfolds to a broad open lake view, with spacious sky and mountains in distance.

As described in the Chinese classic fable of The Peach Blossom Valley, “At first it was extremely narrow, allowing for only one person to squeeze through. After walking another twenty or thirty paces, he suddenly exited onto an open clearing”.

5. Sky Clouds Reflection Pool
An infinity reflection pool blends with the lake and mountains beyond.

Water level of the reflection pool is designed to fluctuate 2 inches, a metaphor of Qiandao Lake’s seasonal fluctuation. An ‘island’ is set at 1 inch below high water level, a stage for solo performance that appears to be floating on water. When the water level is low, the ‘island’ exposes. Twinkle ‘Starry Sky’ lights at pool bottom evokes a poetic image of “underwater ancient villages”, a unique and sentimental history of Qiandao Lake.

Twinkle “Starry Sky” lights at pool bottom evokes a poetic image of “underwater ancient villages”, recalling a unique and sentimental history of Qiandao Lake.

6. Glass Footbridge
A curve glass footbridge, crossing through the sound of shuffling bamboo leaves, creates a tranquil moment before arriving the Lakeside Gallery

7. Shining Lake, Verdurous Mountains, and Spacious Sky
Across the Glass Bridge, standing in the Lakeside Gallery lobby, looking through the panoramic window, a breath-taking view of shining lake, verdurous mountains, and spacious sky.


50% of the site is planting area, maximizing the permeable areas, to reduce the surface runoff and filter the possible pollutant. Native species group and buffer strip also functioned as erosion control and sedimentation.

Three forms of water features, water cascade, rock fountain, and a 7,500 square foot refection pool acted as key elements of the design. It linked the softscape and the hardscape, set up a pleasant microclimate with its exceptional ability to affect the temperature while receiving and maintaining the heat.

Name of the project: Lakeside Garden
Project category: Public Project
Role of the entrant in the project:
Landscape Architect (including site planning, landscape design, art installation and site furniture design)
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (if any):
Lead Designer: Yi Zhu
Landscape Designer: Minghua Fang, Renqiang Song, Wenqi Ling, Weiyue Zheng, Ranghai Wu, Yan Luo, Zhenzhen Si

Project location: Qiandao Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
Design year: 2017
Year Built: 2018

Photo credits: TOPOS Landscape Architects (photograph: Qi Xi)


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