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The Award Winning Quarry Garden Breathes Life Back into Abandoned Site

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden, by THUPDI and Tsinghua University, Shanghai, China. When reclaiming a quarry, many landscape architects typically return the site as close to its original context as possible — or at least downplay its industrial past. That is exactly the opposite of what THUPDI and Tsinghua University did when designing the Quarry Garden in Shanghai, China, and the results couldn’t be more dramatic. The stripped landscape offered a unique opportunity for the designers to create an unusual space that gives insight into the practice of mining in China, as well as breathe life back into the site by creating an eco-friendly public space. The design’s sensitivity and acceptance of the former quarry’s historical, cultural, and ecological context are largely the reason why it won the 2012 ASLA Honour Award.

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden. Photography credit: Yao Chen

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

The Quarry Garden is situated within the Chenshan Botanical Garden, the largest botanical garden in Shanghai. The 4.26-hectare space that comprised the quarry was operational from the early 1950s until it was abandoned in the 1980s. The landscape on Chen Moountain was left badly scarred, stripping away the surface vegetation and creating habitat fragmentation. As part of municipal improvements for Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo, the government spent an estimated $319 million on the entire botanical garden project.

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden. Photography credit: Yao Chen

Creating the Dramatic Effect Everything about this design was intended to create a dramatic experience for visitors through a space that had little to no human contact for more than 20 years. The combination of stone, steel, and water with minimal intervention creates a bold landscape.
Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden. Photography credit: Yao Chen

Bringing in CorTen Steel An even and lifeless rock surface became the new entrance to the Quarry Garden; it was transformed into Mirror Lake, a clear, shallow pond that reflects the Chen Mountain peak. At this point, visitors descend a CorTen steel staircase into a deep pool at the lowest point of the former quarry. A wooden pathway across the water offers multiple vantage points to admire cascading waterfalls and the dramatic surrounding cliff face. Related Articles: 

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden. Photography credit: Yao Chen

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden. Photography credit: Yao Chen

Ancient Chinese Landscape Ink Paintings The designers cut a steep, 25-meter (82-foot) tunnel into the rock wall for tourists to gain a better understanding and appreciation for not only the beauty of the raw stone, but also for the people who mined it. The bold and minimal shapes created by the pathways are reminiscent of the strokes of ancient Chinese landscape ink paintings, giving a hint of the Asian culture. Less is More and This Project Proves it While there were considerable challenges in creating a project such as this, given the rough landscape that remained, the Quarry Garden appears as if little was done to create the unique space. The jagged rock face was left as it was for many years to weather and erode naturally, surrounding the deep pool of water that was left after mining ceased. The effect is an honest piece of landscape architecture, not shy of enhancing its industrial past.
Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden. Photography credit: Yao Chen

The 2012 ASLA Professional Awards Jury said:It’s a very honest project. It’s not trying to cover up what it is and it’s an example of everything done right in reclaiming a quarry. As it seeps down and stains, it will be even more beautiful.” The brave design has attracted many tourists to the remote Songjiang District of Shanghai and will continue to do so. This project should be an example to all landscape architects facing the challenges of renewing rock quarries or any other landscape scarred by human impact; presenting the site in a truthful and unashamed manner can still create a beautiful and unique space. Do you think it is better to be honest and upfront in the way you present a landscape, or is it better to leave a little to the imagination?
Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden. Photography credit: Yao Chen

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden. Photography credit: Yao Chen

Full Project Credits for Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden

Project: Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden Landscape Architecture: THUPDI & Tsinghua University, Beijing Lead Designer: Yufan Zhu Landscape Architects of Record: Yufan Zhu, Yujun Yao, Fanyu Meng, Zhenwei Zhang, Shuni Feng, Ling Qi, Dan Wang, Weiwei Zhai, Chang Guo, Zhiguo Yan, Jianyu Sun, Tianzheng Sun, Zhanzhan Yang Location: Songjiang District, Shanghai, China Client: Guiping Peng, Construction Headquarter of Shanghai Botanical Garden Award: This project won ASLA Honor Award 2012 Date of Construction: 2010 Size: 4.26 hectares (10.53 acres) Photography credit: Yao Chen Firm/School/Agency involved: Department of Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University Research Center of Landscape vs Design Study Urban Planning & Design Institute of Tsinghua Engineering Design Group Xiaohong He (Senior Structural Engineer) Aijun Cui (Water Supply & Drainage Engineer) From Beijing Zhongyuan Engineering Design and Consult Co. Show on Google Maps

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Article by Taylor Stapleton

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