Urbanization in Chinese cities like Guangzhou has led to a diminishing cultural landscape, making it vital for designers to blend the city’s unique heritage into daily life while sustaining its role as a global business hub. Our project, situated at the fringe of Zhujiang New Town CBD, boasts a prime river view and the stunning Canton Tower in the distance. Once known as Siyou Village, this area has a rich cultural history, particularly as the birthplace of Dragon Boat racing.

To honor its waterfront location and Dragon Boat heritage, we’ve incorporated water-themed designs throughout the site, creating a distinctive space that showcases the city’s cultural identity and serves as a cherished local gathering spot. The landscape design features ripple-like paving that mirrors the cascading concept of the architectural design. Combined with angled paving cuts and saw-cut stone finishes, a unique three-dimensional effect is achieved, along with a hierarchical arrangement of spaces.

The 3D paving design complements the building’s terraces, while angled saw-cut stone and shifting tree shadows enrich the plaza’s texture. A flat reflective water feature is placed between the office towers, acting as a transitional element and viewing focal point. The water’s tranquility strengthens the spatial and functional quality while infusing a touch of nature into the urban setting.

A primary water feature marks the site’s intersection with Guangzhou Boulevard, serving as the culmination of the urban axis. The feature mimics a dragon boat’s wake and appears different from every angle. Its stainless steel construction adds a mirror effect, creating a visually captivating and emotive artwork. Weirs are included to distribute the water evenly, contrasting the steel’s strength with a delicate shimmering effect.

Pavement ripples intersect and disperse at the base of the sculpture, merging with surrounding textures and generating a layered water effect. This movement complements dragon boat-inspired seating in the tree-shaded plaza. All landscape elements work harmoniously, drawing on the concept of “river meeting sea.”

Siyou Vanke Center celebrates the area’s cultural importance as the birthplace of dragon boat racing and manufacture. Dragon boat-inspired benches encourage community and empathy, while LED lights beneath create the illusion of boats on water. The seating and tree arrangements adhere to the building’s module and grid, maintaining an open view from Guangzhou Boulevard.

A two-story transformer station on the site’s northern edge is mitigated by water columns that signify the entrance and provide subtle separation. Visitors are greeted by a constant flow of water, reminiscent of paddling oars on a river.

In conclusion, Siyou Vanke Center’s “boating in the city” design connects fast-paced urban life with nature-focused ideals of the past. By reintroducing water into the city’s core, it pays tribute to the Pearl River, once Guangzhou’s spiritual center. The combination of wind, river, and dragon boat culture forms the essence of the project, offering a peaceful sanctuary amidst the city’s bustle.

Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: Shenzhen Benmodu Landscape Design., Ltd
Architecture offices involved in the design: Aedas
Location: No.1 Linjiang Blvd, Guangzhou Blvd, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
Design year: 2019
Year Completed: 2022
Photographer: Chill Shine

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