Reshaping Karst Topography with Farming Culture: A New Community Park Design in Guiyang by

Public Projects / Public Projects / China / Built in 2020 /

This project provides a novel solution for the community park in Guiyang, China. It respects the existing site and represents the local Karst topography, which is famous for its variant landscapes and complex water system, by reshaping the landform with historical construction methods. The project aims to preserve the original characters of the site and provide diverse leisure moments for the public. This goal is achieved in four directions. First, the resilient sustainable design was used to preserve the possible flooding and changes in the future. Second, minimal design principle was used to reduce the intervention and cost. Third, traditional construction techniques were used to retain the site memory. Last, a white circular footpath, that undulates the terrain, connects diverse attractions for the public. As a result, this community park combined with the unique local farming culture and natural landscape successfully. It represents the original state of the site with full vitality, highlighting the wilderness beauty of natural elements, and arousing the resonance between man and primitive nature.

Site context

The site is in the new district in Guiyang with a population of 50,000. It sits next to the Laoma River between Red Maple Lake and Baihua Lake, in the Karst Topography on a large scale. Therefore, it is a typical Asian scenery that combines green mountains with rice terraces and blue rivers with Sampan fishing boats. Blackwater buffalos and villagers with yellow conical hats walking slowly on the terrace fields give the whole picture. However, the current hard-paving public space doesn’t fit the historical scenery nor residents’ needs. Therefore, the goal of this project is to emphasize the natural landscape elements, provide the attractions for the residents, and meanwhile to promote the intimate connection between human and nature.

Design challenge and solution

The Karst Topography has a variety of large- and small-scale landscape features, which introduces the following requirements in our design. First, the height difference is up to 45 meters. Second, the site lies within the 5-meter flooding zone and it is influenced by seasonal floods. Third, the local vegetation species are relatively limited, and the site is suffering from severe soil erosion problems. To address these requirements, our strategy focuses on less-intervention and lower-cost by integrating the site resources. Therefore, a resilient sustainable design method was implemented.

Resilient sustainable design

Based on the seasonal change of water level, the flood is transformed into a unique landscape element of the site. In the forest and plain areas, trestle footpath and viewing platforms are set up, thus the original form of the river channel and natural habitat for animals were preserved. With the platforms stretching out into the river, the space and site are closely integrated, and the dialogue and interaction between human and nature are promoted. In addition, local materials such as wood and raw rocks are selected in the design to reduce subsequent maintenance costs.

Minimal design

The main focus of the project is to preserve the original landscape. Thus the principle of minimal design was introduced. Most of the existing trees and plants are kept, and the footpath is carefully designed around them, avoiding the tree trunks. On the other hand, in order to improve the soil condition, measurements were performed by replacing and repairing the soil base. In addition, local plants with strong anti-adversity and resistance are introduced to solve the problems of soil erosion. New plants and native vegetation will merge and form a coordinated landscape gradually, which will improve the stability of the local ecology.

Traditional construction techniques

Traditional construction techniques and materials are used to retain the historical farming terraces, such as raw rock wall and stone steps. In the process of construction, deviation often occurs due to manual operation, therefore, adjustments are constantly required according to the situation on site. This low-cost construction technique was carefully suggested by the landscape team to help recall the site memories.


As a result, the proposed design gives a continuous white circular footpath, that undulates with the terrain with a 45m height difference, like a white ribbon flowing between mountains and rivers. It connects different functional spaces and constructs a multi-dimensional slow traffic system. Combining the height difference of site, different functional spaces are designed, such as exhibition hall, amphitheater, restaurant, and playground, to meet the needs of different users. The rich landscape has produced different levels of interconnection between nature, space, and people. In the design, the volume of the building is weakened, and the natural landscape of mountain and river become the leading role, forming an open and diversified space, which changes the monotonous form of urban public space.

Photo credits: Jian Zhang, S.P.I Landscape Group

Lead Designers: Hu SUN, Duanlian NIE

Design Team: Hu SUN, Duanlian NIE, Ya XIAO, Junjun DENG, Kun SHI, Yang LEI, Yuting PAN, Liancheng GAO, Shu CHEN

Project location: Longfeng Road, Qingzhen City, Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China

Design year: 2019

Year Built: 2020



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