As an avid art collector, the client was interested in a landscape/open space program that would provide a creative outlet for urban residents and visitors. The notion of landscape as art became the driving force behind the design of the Zobon City Sculpture Garden. The basis for landscape art was derived from the landscape architects understanding of the city and the way in which it interacts with natural forces. Urban phenomena such as flooding, land subsidence and freeway infrastructure are all central to the Shanghai Pudong environment. The landscape design attempts to capture and reinterpret these urban/natural systems dynamic by creating three distinct moments within the project:
Huang-Pu Abstraction Garden
Located at the corner of a highly visible, busy intersection, this garden symbolizes the public face of the project. Its design is based on the infrastructural characteristics of the primary river in Shanghai. Every year, this river experiences flooding along its banks and radically alters the way in which people associate with their waterfront. This garden attempts to mimic this occurrence by creating a 2.5 meter tall stacked, glass fountain flood level that cascades water along its length. A public plaza provides informal seating and a place to view the water feature.
Located at the other end of the public street is the Cognitive Garden. This garden is designed to offer residences and visitors a place of respite for meditation and relaxation and is infused with colorful planting, white sound from a simple fountain and raked gravel.
The largest outdoor space is situated along the public/private side of the project, completely surrounded on all sides by tall towers. This garden attempts to capture what is left of the diminishing skyline by reflecting it directly on to itself through an elliptical-shaped reflecting pond filled with Koi fish and ringed by native plantings and aeration terraces. It is also a gesture towards freeway infrastructure and land subsidence through its curving forms and elevation changes. The outdoor program for this area includes places for tai-chi, eating, small gatherings and walking/viewing.
Design collaboration between the client, architect and landscape architect was critical given the importance of the site and the program. As the centerpiece of the development, this project had to be representative of the clients identity as a progressive and creative force in China. To accomplish this, the client made it clear that the architecture and the landscape were to speak as one language sharing similar traits. The client often referred to the project as a painting where the overall composition was shared by all, yet each consultant was given latitude to explore unique ideas that contributed to the whole.
Most newly constructed landscapes in China are built over structured parking garages. This project was no different. Where it differed was in the landscape architects approach to addressing pedestrian access, natural sunlight and air into the parking structure below. Residents who park below have the option of either entering private elevators into their respective units, or simply walking up a centrally located ramp defined by cascading reflecting pools. Natural air is provided through horizontal slots placed between the private terraces and the reflecting pond. From the garage, one can actually see the reflecting pond at eye level. As you ascend from garage to pond, the relationship gradually changes to place you well above the pond, offering a destination to those taking the ramp.