60 kilometers west from Beijing, embraced by mountains and adjacent to Yongding River, Junzhuang Village is known for its Royal Pear Orchard and now faces the challenge of tourism development in this highly sensitive and valuable environment.
A series of researches and analysis of the 3300ha town area were done, before the landscape design of the 165ha village area, to make sure local community’s long-term benefit is prioritized in the design The design is based on eco-planning guidelines and eco-tourism principles, and the goal is to limit urban development, build low impact and safe landscape, restore vegetation and bio-habitat, and help the villagers to grow economically.
The construction started from the entry area of the 400 years Royal Pear Orchard. All pear trees are preserved, and all buildings are transformed on the original footprint. The entry sequence from the main road to the gate is carefully re-organized following the original contour. A line of big maples aside the main road are welcoming visitors from distance, then visitor would turn at the green “sponge” island where people could stop to meet and chat with friends, enjoy the west mountain view, and prepare to step-on to-wards the orchard.
Eco-display Center & Chaste-woven Pavilion
The existing brick building is transformed from pear storage plant into an eco-display center which echoes the roof pitch and creates gallery views of the landscape. The platform is the best place to appreciate the stunning sunset view with silhouette of the west mountain. A small path from here leads people to a chaste-woven pavilion.
“Good baskets from folks in Longjia Village, man works on the frame and woman on the detail.” The folk song tells the long history and reputation of chaste tree weaving in this area. Western Beijing mountainous area abounds in chaste tree, so the villagers uses the local material to make plates, baskets, fences, and roof tops. This is a simple technology with countless rich patterns created by villagers’ imagination and interest. Chaste tree weaving was a popular handicraft for every household, but in modern life, it is gradually fading out from the everyday life of the villagers. The landscape design embraced this cultural heritage. A modern and sculptural chaste weaving pavilion on the terrace garden becomes the focal point; this is a creative art by the collaboration of villagers and landscape designers, using traditional local material and technique, linking the new landscape with the local traditional craftsmanship.
The entry area then becomes not only a welcoming and exhibition center, but also the favorite gathering place that local villagers are proud of, a place where people join and see the contrast of before and after, experiencing the new lifestyle in an old village. It transforms an old culture into a new one, and then becomes a modern vision of an eco-village celebrating its unique tradition.
Walking passed the eco-display center, original fence walls are demolished to open the orchard view, linking public space with productive landscape. Stepped along the axis and passing the modern gate, two existing trees are well preserved to welcome visitors on the platform in front of a copper embossed screen wall, telling the story of traditional pear production process.
Beijing White Pear is a special local product from Junzhuang Village, especially the ones from “Royal Pear Orchard” with over 400 years history. All pear orchards are well protected in the planning. Permaculture measurements are proposed – previous underground-water irrigation and chemical fertilizer are replaced by drip irrigation and community participated bio-farming, more energy saving and productive. The design suggested that the original single pear tree planting to be changed to composite planting model in four seasons, conserving more and improve soil quality, land production efficiency, and microclimate.
Not only more effective agriculture production and management, but also better interactive green tourism programs are proposed, such as nature school and camping, bird watching, eco-sightseeing and organic farming. All programs are based on the local natural resources, and involved with local communities, to reduce the disturbance of the site, and improve the long-time economic benefit to the communities.
Based on the comprehensive environmental sensitivity assessment, we used the carrying capacity of the land as a guiding indicator for developing sustainable construction on the site. With the concept of sustainable development and the premise of protecting the ecological environment, eco-tourism is a way to enjoy the mind and body through eco-experience and eco-education.
1. Water Resources
For flood control, various methods of river restoration, dredging and ditching are suggested. Drainage channels, dry ponds, rain gardens, and bio-swales are arranged based on water flow survey data, terrain and runoff analysis. Eco-friendly embankment methods such as gentle slope and gabion wall are used in the upstream areas where flow rates are low.
Following the original contours and a natural gulch on site, the layout of village center is integrated with storm water management design. Seasonal water features are designed with dry ponds and rain gardens, bringing the memory of site into its modern life.
2. Forest Restoration
Based on GIS analysis of the factors related to forest restoration, mainly including altitude, terrain slope, soil depth, existing forest conditions, the forest restoration area is divided into four major types: degraded forest land restoration, urban landscape forest construction in village, steep slope forest restoration, and forest
The design team developed a hierarchical recovery strategy in which soil, vegetation and biology will be improved simultaneously for various terrain types and slopes. The design can promote positive forest succession by making long-term ecological conservation plan and planting appropriate native tree species and pioneer species. Through natural restoration of degraded forest land, the site’s ecological service function will be improved gradually, and eventually forms diverse mixed forests.
3. Habitat Restoration
In the past 50 years, the wildlife species have declined significantly in this area. One of the design goals is habitat enhancement. The design team set up target pioneer species and communities based on native biological resources. Through creating diversified nesting and breeding environments which shall attract regional small mammals, forest birds and insects by planting appropriate vegetation communities, ecologically friendly low mountain habitats will be restored.
The cultural landscape renovation of the village is a statement of the value of landscape design –discover the natural beauty, revive the traditional handicraft and rebuild the community bond. Community, ecology and economy are integrated smoothly, to foster a socially sustainable eco-system together.
Name of the project: A Cultural Landscape Renovation of Junzhuang Village in Beijing: Tourism landscape planning and design for Junzhuang village
Project category: Public Project
Role of the entrant in the project: Project Manager
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Stone Shen, Jane Huang, David Gallacher, Fulong Wang, Smile Zhao, Heather Li, Qi Li, Aiai Bao, Yao Lu, Ningjing Yang, Lotus Jiang, Boya Yuan
Project location: Junzhuang Eco Town, Mentougong district, Beijing, China
Design year: 2016
Year Built: 2016