China centre park
6 May 2008
Plans for a radical new park to be built in Southern China have been shortlisted by the Chinese Government, as part of a scheme to create a new eco-city in GuangMing. UCL Bartlett professor, CJ Lim, has effectively thrown out the rulebook to create a new landscape typology, which combines art, organic gardening and energy production in an area the size of London's Hyde Park.
Giant solar panels will populate the park, providing both shade from the fierce sun and a platform for large-scale television screens designed to project images of visitors' favourite flowers. A series of boardwalks allow visitors to walk or cycle round the park and enable allotment holders to access their strips of land - the park is entirely car-free and is based around a park-and-ride scheme, although bicycles are used for the 'ride' element rather than buses. A series of sculptures and art displays are planned throughout the area.
Describing the green space as an 'Arable garden, energy + art park', Lim is keen to maintain links with the area's farming heritage: "As a self-sustainable management intervention, the existing farming community is employed to construct the new landscape and will play an important role in sustaining the long-term gardening workforce. The existing farming strip within the valley is kept and distributed along the higher ground creating a more efficient vegetable gardening carpet. Localised organic food production will establish a strong sense of community empowerment, and will help reduce energy and fuel consumption from food transportation."
Water also plays a significant part in the proposed design. Lim explains: "Existing water sources are enhanced into larger lakes and reservoirs to reinforce the hydrology and ecological dynamics of the site. The increased expanse of water encourages displacement cooling of the surrounding areas and fresh water fish-farming. The lotus, a multi-use cooking plant, displays poetic beauty in the lakes, providing contrast to the robust arable fields." The canal is regenerated into a river of flowing colours - mustard flowers are planted along the emptied channels to attract new wildlife.
Professor Lim was invited to submit a proposal for the park after he reached the final three in an international competition to design and plan the entire new eco-city last year. The results of the park stage of the masterplan are due to be announced in two weeks time. To find out more about Professor Lim's work on GuangMing or for details of his involvement in the China Design Now exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, see the links at the top of this page.