Mountain Residences by

2022 Residential / China / Built in 2021 /

Renovated from a derelict residential development which is abandoned for 8 years, the design team collaborated closely with clients, architects, interior designers, contractors and suppliers to orchestrate moments of design in the field to sort out unforeseen problems. It creatively used a variety of cactus plants which require low maintenance in Sanya as important featured element to create a rich textured and memorable landscape.

This project make great efforts to maximize green spaces in high building density, grow back indigenous plants, introduce low-water-use cactus plants and establishes a low maintenance landscape. 

The landscape design is simple and elegant with graceful forms, pure colors, plain texture and well-proportioned plants. It is a simple palette for the 20-hectare large residence. The original unorganized spaces are transformed into clean alleys and beautiful gardens that highlight the magic of landscape architecture.

Project Narrative

Surrounded by lush green mountains, the 20-hectare derelict residential development is situated in northeast of Sanya, China. To redevelop the whole derelict residential area which is abandoned for 8 years, it is renovated as a showcase with both public and private spaces for relax, recreation and respite. The climate of Sanya is very hot and relatively dry, therefore it is good for not only many tropical plants but also cactus plants.

Maximize Green Spaces and Reintroduce Indigenous Plants
Because of high density of this residential development, there are only a few landscape spaces left between buildings. Green belt alongside road and footpath account for 80% of public green spaces with 2 vehicular ring roads and 42 6m-wide pedestrian alleys. The design team and contractor work closely to identify every inch of potential public green space and turn hard surface into softscape.

A sustainable landscape is a connected one. It fosters ecological linkages beyond its own boundaries with the larger landscape surrounding it. The design team reintroduces most tree species of surrounding green mountains to restore its ecosystem, for example Delonix regia, Kigelia African, Samanea saman, Mangifera indica, Sterculia lanceolata, Barringtonia racemosa and etc. The banyan tree of 200 years old is the only big tree left on the derelict site, is carefully preserved with a wood deck surrounded. It becomes a cozy relaxing space for the community.

Low Water Use and Low Maintenance

Less water use and less maintenance is the main concern of landscape design. With methodical attention to slop, the site is re-graded to prevent loss of soil and water. A cactus is part of the succulent plant family, which thrives on very little water and need little maintenance. The design team use cactus plants to meet the client’s needs for a low-maintenance, low-water-use project. Creative combination of native plants and cactus plants establishes a plant palette that was appropriate, adaptive, and beautiful. A 35m long swimming pool located in the center of residential development is not only to better serve residents but also to reduce their will of building private pools to lower water consumption. The pool is also intended to be immersed in rich textured plants and tree canopies, where reflections and views to the horizon would dominate.

A Simple Palette for the 20-hectare Big Residence
The idea less is more was introduced as design guideline by the design team. Due to limited budget, most retaining walls and structures were kept, so it is wise to use plants as landscape feature elements rather than hardscape. Through thorough study, the design team came up with two major design principles. The first one was to use as less materials as possible to keep hardscape minimal and clean. The second one was to use a variety of cactus plants which require low maintenance in Sanya as important featured element to create a rich textured but simple landscape.
A palette of stone, metal and wood seamlessly connects indoor and outdoor spaces through simple and compelling expressions.
To create a sense of purity and contemplation, white walls were extensive used to form spaces and act as background. Situated close to the road, residence reception center was enclosed by 4 white walls to form a calm and warm welcome space for residents. The outer space was creatively planted with Sansevieria cylindrica, Yucca aloifolia Quadricolor, Cereus repandus and Agave victoriae-reginae T.Moore against the white walls, which serve as the entrance interface. It is simple and impressive. The courtyard was interspersed with Acanthocalycium laeforme, Agave attenuate, Agave americana L., Cereus repandus, etc. on the white-gravel ground. Sitting on the black wood deck and looking back, you will feel getting immersed in the tranquility. Imperfect composition of views allow people to experience the wabi-sabi beauty and leave a deep impression on them.

When you walk pass the threshold consisting with white walls, a “box” of light and shadow will come into sight: white walls, big trees and interspersed cactus plants. Alley not only leads people to their home, but also provides a rectangular garden space for neighborhood gathering.

Walking down the terrace, you will reach the center of the “box” where you can see a large native banyan tree, a wood deck and a lone seat. When the spots of light casting on the ground, the warm and familiar scene will remind you of the good old days. This space encourages people to comfortably sit alone and enjoyed the sunshine coming through the tree leaves. Heading down, you will find a four meters high concrete wall, from which the cascade runs down and breaks the silence of the space.

Minimal use of colors is the key of courtyard design. There are only three colors in hardscape: black, white and natural wood color, while texture is very delicate and rich. The design team creates a shady pergola to provide soothing atmosphere for relaxing, reading and drinking tea.

The design takes advantage of the natural texture of materials, introducing simplicity and comfortableness into the space in a modest way. These residences provide a peacefully aesthetic experience which is realized through the interaction between human and nature.


Liangjun Zhou, Ting Zhou
Lead Designers

Liping Chen, Fang Qin, Hanhan Xu, Hao Yu, Huiting Shi, Hao Li, He Chu, Yuxin Kang, Jinsheng Zhang , Jingzhi Du , Zhenhua Yang, Pei Han, Yueheng Liu, Yuxi Chen, Weiguang Hou, Hongjie Shi, Zijian Wang, Cen Lv, Ziyi Li
Landscape Designers

Qian Duo Yuan
Cactus Plant Consultant

Verse Design

Symmetry Design
Interior Design

Zhou Hongliang Lighting Design Beijing Co., Ltd.
Lighting Consutant

Lei Wang, Bin Zhang, Zhenyu Wei, Yun Huang
Client Coordinators

Hainan Xingyuan Landscape Construction Co., Ltd.
Guangzhou Dongli Landscape Construction Co. Ltd.
Changzhou Chuangxin Landscape Construction Co.Ltd.
Landscape Contractor

Project location:
College Road, Jiyang District, Sanya, China

Design year:2019

Year Built:2021


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