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Before its large-scale urban construction began, Shenzhen was originally a hilly, fertile agrarian landmass. The Jade Bamboo Garden is unique in that it remains isolated from its surrounding traffic routes. Thus the Garden remains preserved as one of the few areas in Shenzhen partly retaining its original landform and vegetation. The project Jade Bamboo Cultural Plaza has successfully opened up this hidden treasure and become a nostalgic retreat connecting nature and the city; the there and then with the here and now.

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Shenzhen is one of the most unique cities in the world. Rarely can one find another urban area on earth that has grown as rapidly and changed as dramatically as Shenzhen. Shenzhen eventually became one of the largest cities in the Pearl River Delta region, which itself has become an economic powerhouses of China as well as the largest manufacturing base in the world.

Since gaining status as a special economic zone in 1979, Shenzhen underwent tremendous change in its landscape. Today after most of the hills have been cut flat and low lands filled, the original topography is hardly visible while inside the city proper.

Although the Jade Bamboo Garden persisted in the original topography and vegetation, it was not very popular and has remained a hideaway. After long negotiation between the city and the developer, the latter agreed to yield the right of use for the lot for an open public space connecting to the planned new gate of the Jade Bamboo Park. They believe this effort will benefit both the residents of their new housing development and the general public as well. As compensation to the developer, the city agreed to build 50 parking spaces under the public plaza.

After close investigation of the site, the architects strongly recommended to abandon the previous planned big square, large fountain, and especially the driveway up to the hill in order to preserve the remaining hillside, existing vegetation and an old tomb on the back slope of the hill.

Inspiring by traditional southern Chinese garden typology, the concept for the new plaza kept the hilly topography of the site and set a series of landscape scenes along the walk path up the hill that reflectstraditional landscape design in southern China.

The planned landscape is a chain composed by different yards. The chain connects the triangle-shaped yards into a harmonious whole and makes the walk ways very varied and spatially interesting. The zigzag open corridor located on the east simply reminds one on a key architectural elements in the traditional Chinese garden- the roofed corridors. In the traditional gardens, the roofed corridors connect different buildings and often have windows or "scenic openings", which act as picture frames that direct the eye to particular views of the garden.

Urbanus believes that landscape architecture is more intertwined with societal, cultural and political consideration now more than ever, especially given China’s current context of urbanization. As Christophe Girot wrote in Towards a Landscape Society: “The garden has come to symbolize a form of resistance, or at least of reaction, to the anonymous and rather systematic globalization of our landscapes. The garden is the living fragment of a possible whole, as well as the last refuge of a fleeting identity.”

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Project details
Project name: Jade Bamboo Cultural Plaza
Description: A urban park conforms to the original landform in Shenzhen.
Category: recreation & sport
Design: URBANUS Architecture & Design Inc.
Building status: in use
Construction period: 2009
Location: Shenzhen, China
Coordinates: 22°32'35.2'' N, 114°3'28.3'' E
Tags: bamboo, infrastructure, landscape, urban, urban garden
Project ID: 347
Published: 11 April 2013
Last updated: 16 November 2013
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