American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2008 Professional Awards
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Plan of the Fragrant Hill 81# Yard. (Image: Zhu Yu Fan)
Bird's-eye view from east to west (Borrowing Landscape from Fragrant Hill). (Photo: Lan Min)
Bird's-eye view from north to south. (Photo: Lan Min)
The reflected sky. (Photo: Zhu Yu Fan)
The Spring Face and Bamboo Fragrance Path. (Photo: Lan Min)
The Poetic Canal in the sunset. (Photo: Lan Min)
Between. (Photo: Zhu Yu Fan)
The Heaven Wood-Conception vs Reality. (Image: Zhu Yu Fan)


New Poetic Mountain Habitat-the Fragrant Hill 81 Yard, Beijing
Zhu YuFan, Department of Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University
Research Center of Landscape vs. Design Study, Urban Planning & Design Institute of Tsinghua
client: Liu Yong

"The landscape architect set a new standard for this type of project. Multi-family housing is increasingly important if we are going to live sustainably and landscape architecture is a key component to the happiness and well-being of residents. The rich palette of plants and materials provide great visual texture and interest and welcome you in."

— 2008 Professional Awards Jury Comments

PROJECT STATEMENT: A landscape design reinterpreting the idealistic Chinese lifestyle and responding sensitively to the context. The simplicity and poetry is well-aided by the outstanding execution, demonstrating the innate serenity with traditional continuity. The preferences of local materials and native plants celebrate the locality and preserve the precious features. It gives an excellent answer to the question: how to integrate architecture, landscape and culture into serving the utmost important purpose-catering to the need, in the contemporary context.

PROJECT NARRATIVE: This program is a community landscape design for a 40-townhouse real-estate project located on a 2.7-hectare site in Beijing. Situated on the 5th ring of Beijing, the metropolis’ suburban edge, the site is in the vicinity of Fragrant Hill and Yuquan Hill, which is distinguished by the landscape architect as the extraordinary potentials.

As a residential landscape design striving for reinterpretation of Chinese idealistic lifestyle and simultaneously catering to the need of modern people, it integrates concerns involving architecture, landscape and nature. This landscape design is comprised of a sequence of three spaces, of which the entrance approach flows to the upper terrace of the site and introduces the main terrace. The entrance approach is emphasized by the tall rubble wall combined with aspens planted aside, framing the houses and providing a sense of enclosure from the street. At the same time the rough material of the walls is well contrasted with the delicate black entrance door. The main terrace, dominating by the reflecting pool-“the reflected sky”, acts as the heart of the program. The pool’s triangle shape is an indication of how simple and elegant the design could be to coordinate pavement, plants and gradual slope into the single effort to craft the space to be a delightful one. Withstanding the limited scale of it, the reflecting pool eliminates this feeling by functioning as a mirror of the dramatic sky. Framed by a Chinese flowering crab apple(Chaenomeles sinensis), this terrace also enables one to encounter the panoramic view of the lavish mountain ranges of Fragrant Hill and Yuquan Hill, since it locates on the view corridor of the two. “The spring space”, on one side of the pool, represents the tight continuity between the different parts of the design. Utilizing the existing slope, it is designed to be an overflow pool to interpret the unifying element-water in another form. Between “the reflected sky” and “the spring space” is the transitional area planting bamboos, serving the purpose of separating the two distinct parts, also as a buffer between the serenity and liveliness. Yet all the three part-bamboo forest, “the reflected sky” and “the spring space”, are seamlessly integrated to the harmonious elegance. The lower terrace is comprised of a recessed sitting area with fragrant flowers and a reflective pool in the shape of rectangle, at the south end of which a mirror is placed in order to extend the horizons into infinity and create the meditative atmosphere.

Actually,the basic idea of the landscape spots mentioned above were derived from the conception of Li Ao, the Tang maestro of literature, who concisely generalized the keys to ideal hillside dwelling from a special point of view. During a field trip to the Lingjiu Temple, he was inspired and wrote: All hillside dwellings rely on strange rocks and surprising peaks, running waters, deep pools, old trees, nice herbs, fresh flowers, and visual depth to acquire serenity’ Afterwards, people call these seven points ‘Seven Keys to Fine Hillside Dwellings’. Among these seven points, the last one considering the sound visual relationship between the dwelling and its surroundings is in fact the critical point of a nice hillside dwelling, which is also the key point of this project.

Special features: Under the premise of the specific circumstances of the site, the landscape architect’s striving for serenity, simplicity and more importantly, the contemporary interpretation of metaphysical idealistic lifestyle, profoundly roots in the traditions of western landscape design and Chinese culture. The effort expresses itself ranging from the culturally sensitive response to the context to the preference of native plants. By reinterpreting the highly appreciated Chinese ideal of poetic mountain residence in a contemporary context, the project demonstrates to what extent innate integrity and harmony strike a chord can.

How to achieve the sense of identification among community members is one of the chief concerns of the designer. But there appears to be a contradiction between this goal and the fact that after assigning each house its own yard, the space left is quite limited. By the pool, “the reflected sky”, dominating the plan, the design successfully extricates itself form the undesirable possibility that it could not provide the necessary sensation of unification. The emphasis of the center and the seamless connection between architecture and landscape is further extended to the south edge of the site. To overcome the restricted depth of it, a mirror is placed at the end of “the spring space”, by which the line of vision is guided toward the infinity, effectively creating the sensation of meditation.

The pasture style of the townhouses, even derived from eastern tradition, can hardly co-exist in harmony with literal Chinese classic landscape design. To achieve the innate continuity of Chinese culture, it is preferable to reinterpret conventional forms in a modern way and explore the new possibilities in material rather than the simple replication of history. By adopting the dark grey rubble walls which respond sensitively to the slope, the design gained the distinct rustic characteristic of Beijing villages. Enhanced by the contemporary landscape design scheme, this project demonstrates easily recognizable integrity.


Landscape Design Group Members:
Shi Ke, Yao Yujun, Wang Dan, Cao Ran, Liu Jing, Guo Yong, Zhang Yang, Li Yingxuan, Yang Mi
Research Center of Landscape vs Design Study, Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning & Design Institute

Construction Document Group Members:
Ma Yue, Yang Cheng, Shi Jingyu, Xia Yongmei, Liu Hongbin
Jinghua Landscape Architecture Planning & Co., LTD

Architectual Design Group Members:
Lan Min
Beijing Yuan Jing Architectual Design & Consulting Co. Ltd.
Jin Longlin
Beijing Si Kong Architectual Design & Consulting Co. Ltd.

Lighting Design Group Members:
Zhang Xin, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University
Kang Chenggu, Rong Haolei
Institute of Lighting Environment Research and Study, Urban Planning & Design Institute of Tsinghua



Ideal Mountain Habitat. (Photo: Zhu Yu Fan)
The Reflected Sky. (Photo: Gu Yangfeng)
Smell of the Mountain Habitat. (Photo: Lan Min)
Communication to the Sky. (Photo: Zhu Yu Fan)
The Flowering Valley. (Photo: Zhu Yu Fan)
Tranquillity. (Photo: Lan Min)
A Brass Maple Leaf in the Pavement. (Photo: Zhu Yu Fan)
The Fragrant Hill 81# Yard (Residential) (Image: Zhu Yu Fan)
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