A series of brightly-colored, angular, four-legged metal structures stand high over the rapidly-growing city of Chongqing, China. The tilting and jutting pavilions atop Fengming Mountain Park emit a warm orange glow at night and shelter the passing pedestrian from the sun’s stare at midday.Published in
Martha Schwartz, known for her iconic–and sometimes controversial–landscape designs, recently completed Fengming Mountain Park, a dramatic landscape that shapes a unique identity for the new development west of the Chongqing city center. Located on an extremely steep site, the park includes a meandering series of riverine fountains and architectural follies along geometric switchbacks leading from a car park on high ground to a sales center far below.
Completed in 2013, Fengming Mountain Park not only serves as a pedestrian gateway to the sales center, but also as a destination and amenity for Chongqing. While the visually arresting metal pavilions draw visitor eyes skyward, the park contains enough geometric artistry at eye level to keep attention on the landscape. Bright orange steel planters guide the pedestrian down a broad zigzag path running alongside terraced stone blocks that contain the flow of water like a pixellated mountain creek.
“The site is extremely steep, using a broad zigzag path to provide mobility down the slope, this strong form enables a sequence that is used throughout the scheme to continue a pattern language as you arrive; as painted art on the pavement; down the zig zag path; into meandering water features; through plazas and then to the final destination at the Sales Centre. At this point, the pattern intensifies into raised benches, coloured paving and lights to provide a crescendo of excitement.” – Martha Schwartz Partners
Perhaps taking its cues from Lawrence Halprin’s Keller Fountain Park, Fengming Mountain Park also draws inspiration from its natural environment by echoing and abstracting the surrounding mountains, terraces, and streams that create the backdrop for the city’s skyline. The park pedestrian becomes the urban hiker, rounding switchback after switchback, never entirely sure what lies around the corner. Looking above the trees, the peaked pavilions are visible, guiding the hiker either down into the valley or up and up, to the crescendo.
Martha Schwartz Partners turned the site’s challenging topography into an asset and molded a steep hill into a sculptural abstraction of the regional landscape, replete with mountains, rivers, and trails. Schwartz’s propensity for creating edgy and unconventional sculptural installations has stirred controversy before, but Fengming Mountain Park will not run that risk; the park design fits in harmoniously with the Chongqing landscape. An acute geometric hand combined with a sensitivity to native landscape forms is present not only in the park’s layout but also in every detail along the way.
Images via Martha Schwartz Partners