The Project is a lotus-themed municipal park known for its bald cypress forest and white egret flock. To tackle the much-concerned water environment problems,The newly built Honghu Park Water Purification Plant, one of the key projects for water pollution control under the Work Plan, employs a leading fully-buried water purification technology and involves the restoration of surface landscape of about 3.24 ha. In this project, we were asked to design the restored surface landscape on top of the water purification facility, and the underground offices at the northern end. In fact, the fully-buried building inevitably brought issues that need no special attention in the case of surface buildings, such as the forms of the visible above-grade part of the underground ventilation and fire control facilities, which were the focus of design. The original intention of buried facilities for "deindustrialization" was actually presented and brought into reality in another form. This was also the unique feature of the Project and one of the most important challenges facing the surface landscape restoration design. We conducted some design research on and“element”extraction from the original spaces of the “pagodas, pavilions, gazebos and corridors”of Lingnan gardens, and transformed and expressed them with contemporary design languages and materials.we naturally made it a 3D abstraction of lotus, the theme plant repeatedly emphasized by the park management, and a public art installation. The bird watching and observation platform helped eliminate the compulsory but visually-awkward vent shafts and evacuation stairs, injecting“useful” experience in them and creating an important lotus landmark in Honghu Park.The six medium-sized vent shafts containing evacuation stairs were designed with accessible paths and platforms, reflecting different characteristics in spatial form. The six small ones were dedicated for ventilation, so only facade greening on grilles of similar materials were employed to enhance the natural feel, including a rain shelter with seats. During the whole design process, we’ve been trying to avoid excessive design despite of many unexpected factors “informed” about the underground works. We neither highlight nor cover up, but instead, we made the best out of the project conditions to achieve natural unity and harmony. Shenzhen Lotus Water Culture Base It represents important attempt of NODE in infrastructure publicization projects over the years in terms of interdisciplinary design practice of water purification and landscape architecture. We had to achieve sufficient understanding and conduct necessary research about the technical logic and production process/logic behind the landscape design, as the surface landscape is closely related to the underground facility and the surface flood control requirements. On this basis, we intended to go beyond the engineering logic, and tried to create an aesthetic and community-friendly public space. In the flood season every year, the water level of Buji River west of the site rises. When the water level reaches a certain height, the river water will flow into Honghu Lake where a flood storage area is formed to alleviate the water level rise in the flood season. As the site is a low land that falls within the flood discharge passage, the final flood control safety assessment of the Project determined that the site elevation for 100-year flood is 12.4 m and that for a 200-year flood is 13.4 m. In addition to the above water-related design challenges, we were also faced with various claims from different stakeholders (such as the government, the park authority, and Operator）as we started our designs, due to the park’s importance and much attention it had attracted. For example, the government required that the greening rate of the ground should be restored to 86%, the wetland planning be followed and the relationship between the original ecological bird island(s) and the landscape be well balanced under the sponge city concept. The park management needed nearly 7,000 m2 as a lotus nursery cultivation base, and the restoration of the natural lake shoreline and nearly 5,000 m2 of water body. The operators aspired for creating a “deindustrialized” wild landscape which, coupled with public science visits, may change people’s stereotype about “sewage plant”. In our opinion, these are typical issues encountered in the design process of many urban projects. Design is always "on the way", and we should always keep a "change-embracing" mindset towards various requirements in different stages, to ensure that the "on-the-way" design will not affect the overall progress of construction; but for us, the biggest challenge was to ensure the original intention and the final completeness of the design in a continuous "changing" process. The northernmost underground supporting building was planned as office space. As it stood at the end of the Park, geographically out of the way, how to create enough magnets to guide the public to discover and walk to it became a key design issue. As response, we adopted a design strategy that emphasizes both software and hardware. On the one hand, we added the functions of public education and science popularization on top of office function, such as creating a water purification exhibition hall in combination with the underground open garden; on the other hand, we tried to create a distinctive public space and garden on ground level as the landscape highlight and the pre-function zone of the exhibition hall to attract people. We hope that, through the active design efforts of landscape architects/architects, the water purification facilities that are indispensible for our daily life will become pleasant and ceremonial places in the city for public experience and learning, thus redefine the significance of infrastructure from the dimensions of spirit and landscape/architectural aesthetics.
LIU and her studio NODE has been conducting diversified architectural and urban design practices in the PRD and wider region for years. With the design focuses on urban regeneration, infrastructure and public space, the studio tries to reinvestigate and reexamine the given conditions based on specific sites and issues. Through a series of critical and research-based design exercises, the studio seeks to explore and ultimately to deliver different but better alternatives in architecture today.