Lotus Lake Park by Integrated Planning and Design Inc. Historically, China has had a somewhat less than stellar reputation for living conditions, particularly in cities where rapid growth and urbanization has occurred. However, after many decades of overcrowding, pollution, and virtually non-existent green space in cities, China has managed to become a world leader in environmental design and planning. Today, China is a cultural center for technology and innovation, and the field of landscape architecture is no exception. In fact, China was recognized as the country experiencing the most growth in landscape architecture in our article 5 Countries Where Landscape Architecture is Booming.
Sudden growth in sustainable urban design?
Growing concerns over public health and environmental sustainability have created a demand from people in China for an improved living environment, particularly in cities, which has in turn stimulated the redevelopment of industrial lands into valuable urban and community spaces that enrich the lives of locals. Lotus Lake Park, completed in 2011, is a testament to this shift in urban design. Lotus Lake Park; a park or a community complex?At 4.4 hectares, Lotus Lake Park is less of a park and more of a community complex. Located in the Jiangsu Province of Eastern China, this park is part of the greater revitalization and redevelopment of the city of Kunshan, which is expected to be a center for growth for the region. The park functions not only as a significant cultural and recreational center for the growing community, but as a precedent that will influence the design and character of new development as the city expands westward. Award Winning Design! Designed by Integrated Planning and Design Inc, the park has been recognized globally by professionals for its contribution and excellence in the field of landscape architecture. It was the recipient of the 2014 Honor Award from the Northern California ASLA chapter. Ecologically Inspired The Chinese firm focuses on creating balance and harmony between people and the environment, particularly in urban places. Its approach emphasizes the importance of understanding context and using it to inform design. This approach is particularly evident in the design for Lotus Lake Park, which thoughtfully integrates elements from local history, culture, and geography. Utilizing Strong Identity with Water Located in a region rich in lakes and rivers, water holds a particular cultural and historical significance for the city of Kunshan. Fishing and aquaculture have long been important economic activities in the region. As a canal city, water is also closely connected to Kunshan’s cultural identity, and Lotus Lake Park manages to incorporate this theme of water throughout its design. Related Articles:
- Contemporary Landscape Architecture in China: Beautiful or Dangerous?
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Water features play an important role in the park. The park’s centerpiece, a lake, is actually a productive aquaculture pool, where historically and regionally significant species are cultivated using sustainable aquaculture practices. A number of large display tanks, featuring historically cultivated plants and shellfish, are also present throughout the park, and act as educational tools to engage and inform visitors about local and sustainable aquaculture. Floating boardwalks create a pathway system that allows visitors to explore the site freely and reduces barriers between park visitors and the water.Arts and Culture Epicenter The region is also known for its contribution to Chinese performing arts. The Suzhou City Prefecture, of which Kunshan is a part, is an arts and culture epicenter and is one of only seven cities in the world where the Chinese Kun Opera, dating back to the 14th century, is professionally performed today. Kun Opera remains hugely influential on performing arts in China, and through the integration of various design elements, including a 360-degree open-air theater, a water projection screen, and a mock stage, Lotus Lake Park pays tribute to this rich arts heritage. These elements, connected by a series of pathways, aim to stimulate and encourage spontaneous performances. Site Sensitive Planting Schemes Onsite vegetation also has been selected carefully and deliberately, with sustainability and site context in mind. Both aquatic and terrestrial plant materials were selected from native and locally relevant plant palettes. This includes, for example, use of the double-headed lotus flower, for which Kunshan is famous. Overall, a harmony between tradition and the contemporary has been achieved in the design of Lotus Lake Park. The park will serve the needs of a growing, increasingly urban Kunshan while still honoring and respecting the rich heritage and tradition of the region and the integrity of the natural environment. Lotus Lake Park is just one example of how far China has come in terms of environmental design and planning. Today, China is continuing to make huge investments in sustainable urban design and shifting the focus from exploiting its natural resources to protecting them, all while improving living conditions for the country’s growing urban populations. Recommended Reading:
- Urban Design by Alex Krieger
- The Urban Design Handbook: Techniques and Working Methods (Second Edition) by Urban Design Associates
Article written by Michelle Biggs Return to HomepagePublished in