In the making of Nanjing Geology Park, we set out to create a place where anyone, regardless of human, animal, and nature, could enjoy, and a landscape with emotionally moving and calming qualities benefitting the timelessness of a geological site. The architect and landscape architect strongly endorsed the plan, and through the total and mutual respect for each other, the project has attained the ultimate joy of collaborating for a design considering the existing nature, landscape, and architecture together. These efforts have resulted in a splendid work of architecture and landscape that blends in perfectly with the surrounding nature.
We seek the park as a contemporary sanctuary that transcends human needs. Kind to visitors and home to animals, butterflies, and trees. Without any affiliation, this is a place that allows us all to rest and contemplate. The Park is unlikely any other in the past, architecture and nature coexist at the same time. With exquisite balance, it is also a place that is gentle yet strong, wild yet intimate.
After the birth of the park, it is our job to cultivate its reason for being as those entrusted with the responsibility of raising it. As people from all over the world visits the site, it is our hope that the park will serve as a place of nature, that transcends differences and boundaries for the generation to come, and that this philosophy will last like an old tree continue to grow in time to protect the place.
The Nanjing Geology Park is located on a geological heritage site in Tangshan area of Jiangsu province. Approximately 25 kilometers north of Nanjing city, the Park is laid out in a mature forest with historical warehouses for stone miming in the past, and a preserved cliff for geological study.
The park utilizes its mineral history by designing paths cutting through the ground to reveal the texture of the stone. Nevertheless, local stone has been used on the sidewalls and the sunken paths that provide experiences to sense the material and minerality of the site.
The paths are also carefully designed to create gentle slopes that provide a smooth walking experience descending into the ground. When walking on the paths, visitors are embraced by stone on the walls and the ground. The experience given creates an opportunity for the visitor to reflect on the mining memory of the site. Different textures and sizes of the stone have also been studied for the paving to signify the pace of walking. The entrance plaza where big stones are used for paver creates a calmer experience yet the paths with smaller stones in the woods provide a dynamic and moving journey.
Another intervention of the design strategy is to mimic the stone mining process, to recycle and reuse the boulders from excavation during the construction. The boulders from the ground are used as material and sculptural features in the park. Big stones have been placed to form a monumental gateway at the entrance of the museum. Like nature guardians to a place to remember, the handsome power of the ground is revealed again by its geological solidness, heaviness, and calm.
To protect the historical remains of the site, the architect carefully renovates the existing buildings, transforming the warehouses and storage towers into an art center, museum, and gallery. To highlight the geological heritage cliff, the main building is designed with a mega spanning system to frame the cliff. The power of nature and the strength of the architecture is shaped by the tension of the contrast. Dramatic experience in between arouses the perception of the cliff, and the awareness of scale- the smallness of the human, and the grandness of nature.
Another element to reserve in the park is the old forest at the site. To protect the mature trees in the park, all trees have been reserved and all the paths have been designed to detour around to avoid damaging the root. As a result, the path system gives sufficient space for the trees to grow, yet creates an intimate walking experience into the woods.
The canopies from the reserved trees also become the natural ceiling of the park. Light and shadow through the leaves project beautiful patterns on the ground. From morning to dusk, the changing light creates a movement of life in time.
Another feature of the park is the old stone mining infrastructure system at the site, including a rail system for loading trains, and a turning wheel pool for train parking. The design strategy is to reserve the special pool as an iconic feature on the plaza, and to restore the damaged rails. The pool used to serve as an industrial item is integrated with new water features to be the new landmark on the plaza. A rail network is restored again to echo the history of the past.
The geology park embraces the memories of the site, and recreates a park that memories can continue and new dreams could be dreamed. A dream of human philosophy, a dream of nature fantasy, a dream of harmony. We wish the eternal harmony between the old and the new, the past and the future, the architecture and the landscape, the visitors and the habitants, can continue to coexist. Sustainable relationships could be built upon the appreciation of the nature and past.
Architect: Deshaus Architects
CD Drawing: Nanjing Yangtze River Urban Architectural Design Co. LTD.
Project location: Jiangsu Garden EXPO Park, Nanjing, China
Design year: 2019
Year Built: 2021