Designed primarily as an exploration park for children (and adults alike), Qingpu Nanjing Park is a natural outdoor play area that provides an alternative to the many synthetic playgrounds and parks that have sprung up on the urban landscape. Being constantly surrounded by movement and color, children and adults are given the opportunity to increase creativity through the integration of natural design elements that readily engage the five senses when playing outside. Therefore natural colors are most appropriately used within the park with simple components that help create a calming effect.
The park was designed to demonstrate theoretical ideas of ‘three natures’: Unaltered Native Landscapes, Utilitarian or Agricultural Based Landscapes and Aesthetic Landscapes, where the parks occupants learn to value in unison natural and manmade environments. The three natures as a theme provide developmental benefits for adults and children by arousing a sense of exploration and curiosity that suggests a variety of challenges and adventures.
The Wild or Natural/Native Landscape creates opportunity for spontaneous, unscripted and unexpected space. The mysterious atmosphere of a wild garden or park creates an enchanting environment where visitors feel inspired to explore. Once immersed, visitors are absorbed in a wilderness of wild vegetation and winding paths that are paved with thin layers of bark chips or sand. Wooden play forts with hanging nets blend and disappear into the treetops and recycled tree trunks are used as climbing elements, sitting, bridges, floating ‘sand’ boats and fences; all blending into the forest floor.
Utilitarian or Agricultural based Landscapes explores a landscape pattern conditioned by human activities as a product of change in the natural landscape by using landscape ‘identity’ and ‘accessibility’ as focal points. Patterns fashioned from agricultural configurations found originally on the site create opportunity for diverse activities within a ‘controlled’ landscape including a large hedge maze, small play courtyards, exercise areas, orchards to picnic under and open mini-lawns.
Aesthetic Landscapes share a common experience where landscape aesthetic and ecology quality coincide. Sections of the Dianpu River’s concrete embankment at the northern edge of the park are removed and a natural riverbank restored to revitalize the riparian ecology and maximize the river’s self-purification capacity. Framed with viewing boardwalks and sitting areas, the disruption in the river wall allows seasonal floods to permeate into specific rain gardens rich with native riparian florae and water cleansing ‘phytoremediation’.
Serpentine trails and low natural stone walls shape the land into hills and valleys weaving the ‘three natures’ into viewing corridors. Colorful Maples, Taxodium trees, native wild flowers and grasses including a vast dandelion meadow (Taraxacum erythrospermum) demonstrate the cycle of changing seasons and has become another strong aspect of the park itself with a series of cyclical changes for all four seasons.
The importance and ability of Qingpu Nanjing ‘Exploration Park’ to evoke and maintain a sense of fun and youthful attitude in natural surroundings within the middle of a city encourages people of all ages to learn, play and explore. This becomes more evident through the integration of natural design that fit harmoniously into the urban environment that we live.
Landscape Architect: Design Land Collaborative Ltd (DLC)
Client: Shanghai Qingpu New Urban Area Construction Development Co., Ltd
Project location: Qingpu District, Shanghai, China