Instinct Fabrication: VANKE Wangjing Garden is a landscape renovation project for a linear space between a parking lot and an office building in Wangjing, a vivid contemporary district in northeast corner of Beijing metropolitan area. After being highly used for almost two decades, this 0.6-acre hardscape-only site is now malfunctioning in poor pedestrian experience, outdated infrastructure and blight appearance, which are typical characters of the current environmental presence of Wangjing District since its first development back in the late 1990s. The project, run by VANKE (the developer) and government of the district, is one of the initiatives of revitalizing this densely-populated community, where dynamic urban lifestyles have been established and a mix of internationals have been housed, including Korean, Japanese and 1st round of immigrants from other cities of China. The design for the site is not just a stand-alone landscape solution to benefit people there, but also as a first brush of environmental upgrade to trigger more similar projects in the district and even in many others of Beijing, where an era of renovation is probably on the way after its 30-yr lightening growth.
Unlike typical urban fabrics of Beijing, street grid and figure ground in Wangjing is not orthogonal, which makes a few disconnected, abandoned, leftover land through public realm evolution over years. Our site is just one of those sitting in middle of hi-rise juggles built in early 2000s. It used to be a part of a transitional plaza from a main street to the residential towers, office building and retail complex behind. After residential tower was enclosed by its perimeter wall and retail environment had matured there, the vast paved plaza was partially turned into a surface parking lot to accommodate more retail visitors, due to the overused underground parking. Since then, the remaining linear paved area had stayed without any shade or amenities but right next to a parking lot driveway. Moreover, the large area of granite paving caused a huge amount of surface runoff due to a high substructure slab, leaving no space for pipes or soils. The rainwater on the site, as well as those from the building, have to travel a long way on ground before being drained into sewage on the other side of the parking lot. All these made extremely uncomfortable experience resulted in continuous loss of retailer, customers and office workers till 2016. In 2017, the developer – VANKE stepped in for a comprehensive renewal to this mix-use, starting with this project as very first touch of this redevelopment.
During our first site visit, we were stunned not only by problems mentioned above, but also by the diversities of users. In addition to people who come for work, shopping and dwelling, there are also huge amount of delivery workers, blue collars, construction site workers who even didn’t dress properly but contribute themselves to make this better on daily basis. It was so natural and instinctive that you could feel they are a real part of this place and will be the part of this renovation process in future. Thus, we would like to incorporate this sincerity and honesty in design scheme, which envisioned a cozy urban garden by providing adaptive texture to the surroundings, friendly amenities embracing anyone who could appear here.
Being able to bring back more people and revitalize the lifestyles through landscape is the success of this project. It reconciled several issues such as history, budget, ecology, sustainability, circulation, amenities and psychology as well. It’s an example of landscape refreshment in a context of rapid-growing urban framework in Beijing, China. Since the opening in last July, more shops and retailers have entered this area. The land value has increased, including both office rental and residential properties nearby. The implementation has been a true benefit to the surroundings as VANKE and the government has kicked off Phase 2 and 3 to the east of the site, as a part of a larger development to continue these initiatives for walkable, dynamic, sustainable new Wangjing District of Bejing.
Landscape Architecture: Instinct Fabrication
Project Name: Vanke Wangjing Garden
Project location: 68 Wangjing Street, Chaoyang, Beijing, China
Design year: 2017-2018
Year Built: 2018