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10 Projects that Show Us Amazing Ways to Design with Varying Levels

10 Projects that Show Us Amazing Ways to Design with Varying Levels

Article by Carlos Cortés Why is designing with varying levels a challenge for the user and the landscape architect? – 10 10 projects that show us how to design with varying levels. Playing with the varying levels of a landscape invites users to experience and discover what each point of the site has to offer. It promotes a more conscious visit of the place through its vistas, spots, and of course the overall big picture. Nonetheless, for designers and landscape architects, it’s a challenge to know when and how to play with levels. This is because every project is unique and responds to different conditions. Let’s take a look at 10 projects that show us amazing ways to design with varying levels. 10. Where the River Runs, by Penda, inside the 10th China International Garden Expo, Wuhan, Beijing, China Where the River Runs by Penda is a beautiful conceptual project with a lot of meaning. The designers evoked the path of a river to make people more conscious of the importance of clean water. This path has been created with wildflowers, grass, and lawns, but it also features different heights that fit incredible well into the landscape as soft hills and valleys. People can experience this landscape in various ways, including at the path level or on the grassland above the canyon. It is a very fun place to visit and relax while reflecting on our environment.

Where the rivers runs. Image courtesy of Penda

Where the rivers runs. Image courtesy of Penda

9. The Soundwave, by Penda, in Xiangyang, Hubei, ChinaMusic is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This is another piece of art by Penda. Trying to capture the nature of music, rhythm, and dance, Penda architects show us how those elements can coexist within an already existent landscape. The varying levels are featured on the terrain, but the sculpture of sound waves that brings its name to the project is rich on movement, making this an incredible landscape!
The Soundwave. Photo credit: Xia Zhi

The Soundwave. Photo credit: Xia Zhi

8. Kyushu Sangyo University Landscape Design1, by DESIGN NETWORK + ASSOCIATES, Fukuoka, Japan This project for Kyushu Sangyo University involves three major areas, one of which is placed as the landscape for the amphitheater and is composed of irregular lines reminiscent of traditional terraced rice fields. This space allows users to spend time while waiting or relaxing, featuring marvelous vistas of the place that features camphor trees. This design provokes in the users the desire to experience those irregular lines for themselves.
Amphitheater at Kyushu Sangyo University. Image courtesy of DESIGN NETWORK +ASSOCIATES

Amphitheater at Kyushu Sangyo University. Image courtesy of DESIGN NETWORK +ASSOCIATES

7. 8 House and Landscape Design, by BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group, in Copenhagen, Denmark Designing with varying levels, as BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group has done with the 8 House and Landscape Design, is a perfect example on how to combine spatial experience with purpose and functionality. Here, the levels are presented in both ways — vertical and horizontal. A patio with organic topography and another with low geometric hill terraces are designed to please the user with more levels to enjoy.
8 House. Photo credit: Jens Lindhe

8 House. Photo credit: Jens Lindhe

6. Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark Museum, by HASSELL and Studio Odile Decq, in Tangshan, China A geopark has to feature sustainability and functionality — and in this case, a very intuitive and intelligent design. The Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark Museum, by HASSELL and Studio Odile Decq, includes various gardens, each having different qualities of a specific period of the Paleozoic era. We can appreciate how the designers played with the levels, not only in the gardens, but also in the project as a whole. One majestic example is the skylight in the center of the building.
Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark Museum.

This photo captures how the landscape design curves and moves up and down in coordination with the land and how it is layered, geometrically, in a pleasing manner for the user. Photo credit: Johnson Lin

5. Earthly Pond Service Center of International Horticultural Exposition 2014, by HHD-FUN, in Qingdao, Shandong, China To get incredible results with levels, you have to think about shapes. This project proves that, as all the mathematics and geometry behind the design provides a calm and quiet space. The gradients and elevations works perfectly for the aesthetic experience. The main spaces are in a lower level than the street, and other elements – such as the rooftop platform or the observatory deck — are placed to integrate perfectly with a landscape that conserves all of the trees and connects people to the lake.
designing with varying levels

Earthly Pond Service Center of International Horticultural Exposition 2014, by HHD-FUN. Photo credit: DuoCai Photograph

4. One Island East, by Hargreaves Associates, in Taikoo Place, Hong Kong, China Can urban plazas be intimate places and serve their purpose of hosting common events at the same time? One Island East proves that the answer is yes. Hargreaves Associates designed this plaza for transition. Terraces, green platforms, and water basins provide softness and a very simple but effective game of heights. With proper lighting, this plaza in Taikoo Place is a must to visit!
One Island East

One Island East. Image courtesy of Hargreaves Associates

3. Velenje City Center Pedestrian Zone Promenada, by ENOTA, in Velenje, Slovenia To talk about rivers is to talk about varying levels. How can landscape architects take advantage of the challenge to design for such places? That’s what ENOTA show us with this project. The city of Velenje was built in the 1950s on the Modernist idea,l and the Promenada zone keeps those ideals with a design that goes from open spaces to green intimate spots at different heights. The river is now the focal point of the city, as it features an amphitheater that serves cultural purposes when the river isn’t raging.
designing with varying levels

Velenje City Center Pedestrian Zone Promenada. Photo credit: Miran Kambič

2. Espace Bienvenüe: Paris Est. Scientific and Technical Pole, by Jean-Philippe Pargade Architecte, in Marne-la-Vallée, France The rolling platform of Espace Bienvenüe is such a fun feature of this sustainable architecture. The platform is a perfect element and provides a break from the other linear qualities found in the surroundings. This space is covered with grass, providing a large park for recreation, and is a must-see for all green roof lovers and people interested in bioclimatic design. Another great example of sustainability and landscape for the user.
Espace Bienvenüe: Paris Est. Scientific and Technical Pole. Photo credit: Sergio Grazia

Espace Bienvenüe: Paris Est. Scientific and Technical Pole. Photo credit: Sergio Grazia

1. Vache Noire (Black Cow), by Agence TER Landscape Architects, in Arcueil, France Vache Noire proves that when you really try to use all the space, you go with varying levels. In this case, the objective was to create at least 2,000 square meters of green space for the city. Designers took this place, once only used by cars, and created a public park with living sculptures. The project is composed of three main parts that are defined by an eventful topography to admire. You must not miss this one — check it out!
design with varying levels

Vache Noire. ©agenceter- Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre photographers

Design with Varying Levels

Can we play with varying levels more often? From parks, neighborhoods, rivers, and plazas, we have seen how playing with different heights can be done on almost any project. It can be featured on the furniture, be the very own topography of the place, or even the roof like in Espace Bienvenüe. Landscape architects use this to add fun to their designs and economy for the projects. As a user, I love to experience different heights at a place. Do you know any other landscape architecture with varying levels? Let us know in the comments.

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Article by Carlos Cortés

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