The Vortex Garden, a display garden at the 2021 Shenzhen Bougainvillea Garden Show, was designed to be recycled and reused. Unlike traditional garden displays that are discarded after the show, the landscape architects aimed to consider the life cycle of a temporary garden. The garden was built with a prefabricated module system that allowed 90% of the garden to be restored after the exhibition.
Comprising of two spiral landform structures, the Vortex Garden featured 220 prefabricated planters arranged to resemble the waves of the sea. Bougainvillea in shades of white, pink, purple, and dark blue adorned the planters, creating a gradient effect. As the planter structure rose, a captivating vortex field emerged.
Visitors strolling along the path framed by the rising vortex were gradually immersed in an underwater world. The succulent and herbal plants, each with unique shapes and colors, represented the coral reef. The back sides of the vortex were clad in mirror-finish steel panels that reflected adjacent images, creating a sensually enlarged sense of space. This miniature garden was designed to be engaging for children, who could interact with the dangling light fabrics that swayed like jellyfish in the gentle breeze.
At the outset of the design process, careful consideration was given to module aggregation. A prefabricated modular framework was adopted to ensure high-quality construction within the tight schedules and short life cycles typical of garden shows. The use of prefabricated modules also allowed for the recycling and reuse of materials in new forms once the shows had ended, thereby extending the lifespan of the gardens.
The module aggregation strategy consisted of two interrelated parts: prototyping and repetition. Prototyping of modules enabled prefabrication while field construction was ongoing, while repetition facilitated smoother workflow and clearer communication among workers. The more efficient the relationship between these two parts, the more streamlined the prefabrication and construction phases became. With the exception of several metal frame welds, the vortex structure was assembled entirely from modular planters, resulting in improved budget control and faster removal.
Following the 40-day exhibition, the landscape architects retrieved the planter modules before the dismantling process commenced. The modules were then recycled and reused in two distinct locations: a public roof deck and a street corner by the sidewalk. Circular modules were repurposed as furniture and planters, with their placement and size tailored to each new site. The reorganized module pieces effectively transformed the spaces into lively social hubs.
The success of the Vortex Garden demonstrated the potential of prefabricated modular design as a sustainable and economically viable solution that is also environmentally friendly. This approach allows for creativity and innovation to thrive in the context of garden shows, while also contributing to a more sustainable future.
Location: 22.550655, 114.062399
Design year: 2021