The 4th Chinese horticultural exposition opened in Jinzhou China in May 2013. The World Landscape Art Exposition includes 20 large scale gardens designed by landscape architects from around the world.
The theme of the Expo is ‘The World is a Garden’. The theme reflects the idea that Landscape Architecture and Garden Art are amongst the most pleasing aspects of human existence, on an almost spiritual level, for all peoples, everywhere. As the Expo website states:
“LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE AND GARDEN ARTS UNITE ALL PEOPLES – WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND WORLD CULTURES COME TOGETHER IN JINZHOU”!
The site for the Expo is New Jinzhou City, a satellite city constructed on the shores of the Bohai Sea, 3.5 hrs by fast train from Beijing, at a latitude of 42 degrees north. Jinzhou is a city of some 3 million people, situated 20 kilometres or so inland, and the New Jinzhou City will be associated with an increased port capacity to deliver growth for the coastal province of Liaoning.
The Expo site is built over reclaimed shrimp farms, and is 3 kilometres long x 1 kilometre wide. The International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) collaborated with Jinzhou City and International Association of Horticultural Producers (IAHP) to promote an international competition for the 20 garden designs. A registration of interest process and a second stage short listing process saw 103 entries to the jury panel. A panel of jurors from Jinzhou City, JComm (the developers and construction managers), and IFLA selected the winning gardens in April 2011.
Judging criteria were:
• With the expo theme, ‘The World is a Garden’ in mind, the work should be symbolic and unique, linking the garden culture of the applicant’s region to the future.
• The work should be sustainable, linking the climate, history and culture of the Expo venue region to the future.
• The work should be attractive such that people will wish to experience it at least once.
• The work should be for a garden having long-term viability as a permanent exhibition, and one that minimizes maintenance, management and operation.
• The work should be children-friendly, children being recognized as important to the continued enjoyment of garden art in the future.
• The work should stand out the idea of environmental protection and look forward to the future.
The 20 designers visited the site in September 2011, and met with the local Chinese landscape architects who would do the detail documentation and the construction drawings. Following the construction phase, the 20 designers were invited to the opening, on May 10th 2013.
Jinzhou expects to attract 10 million visitors through the gates over the opening period. On the Sunday after opening, 75,000 people went to the gardens, at that rate they are on track!
From press releases in the China Daily:
“The project took two years to complete. It used 20 million cubic meters of sand and soil, cleaned up using various desalination devices and wind-proof technologies, according to Liao Huige, vice-director of the park’s construction project. “It’s amazing how the city has been able to build such a big park with this kind of material. They really did a good job,” said Desiree Martinez, president of the International Federation of Landscape Architects. Wang Wenquan, Party chief of Jinzhou, said: “The expo will introduce Jinzhou to the outside world, help enhance its urban culture and cohesion, and upgrade the city’s economic structure, especially in terms of environmental protection.” “It will also give Jinzhou a facelift, boost its tourism industry and create job opportunities by improving modern services, all of which will facilitate the city’s modernization and raise its overall competitiveness. “It’s a win-win solution for Jinzhou to hold the expo. Once desolate Jinzhou Bay has turned into a picturesque and modern land.”
The area is complemented by other amenities such as the adjacent Marine Science Museum and the Bohai Bay Waterscape, and the 15,000m2 Plant Fossil Garden, the world’s first, which displays 408 fossilized trees from countries including China, the US, Russia and South Africa.
Another is Ancient Ecological Hall with 2,400 fossils discovered in the west of Liaoning province including dinosaurs, birds, fish and plants. The hall also houses one of the world’s largest dinosaur museums. It covers 2,000 sq m to display more than 100 dinosaur fossils.
The expo will also display a solar parking lot with a capacity of 2.4 megawatts and a solar energy house with zero fuel consumption.
I was impressed with the 57,800m2 tulip garden, extending as far as the eye can see. The scale of the tulip display easily dwarfs contemporary examples, such as Canberra Australia’s Floriade, at 8,500m2.
Jinzhou has cold winters, and, while I had anticipated using Australian plants, due to the harsh climate this was not possible. I made do with a selection of deciduous trees and conifers for structure, and deciduous shrubs and herbaceous perennials.
My garden, the Garden of the Southern Cross (Paradisi Australis Crucis), looks to the broad flat landscape of Australia, with its forested coastal margins. It includes:
1. ISLAND FOREST GARDEN
Stone Pines within ‘Australia’ represented as a broad 20m x 10m space.
Edge of formed concrete, stepping down 100mm to purple coloured slate gravel mulch.
Detail strip of painted steel + LED lights identify state boundaries and act as balance beams for children to walk through the forest of Pines.
2. AUSTRALIS GARDEN GALLERY
Steel -framed structure. Timber deck 600mm higher than garden areas.
Ramped and stair access from garden.
Perforated steel screen to rear provides views through to Bamboo Garden.
Timber deck and stone plinths with carved text in Mandarin and English characters.
Walls are hung with artworks relating to the theme of ‘Australia’ and ‘The Southern Cross’.
The structure is lit with soffit mounted lights washing over the hoop pine plywood ceiling.
3. DESERT GARDEN
Desert landscape depicted with large smooth stones acting as stepping stones leading to blade wall.
Stone wall has cutouts and windows providing views through the garden beyond.
The entry path cuts through the wall, with a steel lintel support.
Gravel mulch surrounds stepping stones.
4. GINGKO GARDEN
An angled stone wall provides wind protection and a graduated view of the trees and garden beyond.
10 metre high Gingkos (a botanically ancient tree) are planted to reference the age of the Australian landscape.
5. LAWN OF LONGITUDE
A broad area of lawn grass provides a relaxation area.
Squared timber sections from recycled timer are carved with words from all languages, welcoming visitors to the Paradisi Australis Crucis garden. The totems identify ‘points on the compass’, denoting lines of longitude.
6. SOUTHERN CROSS – AUSTRALIS CRUCIS
Five sandstone columns represent the five stars of the Southern Cross, the key star constellation of the southern hemisphere, that has been used as a navigation tool by sailors for centuries.
The columns are lit with inset pavement lights
The stone columns are set on a concrete plate that floats over a ’sea’ of water (or crushed blue glass), referencing the ‘Southern Ocean’.
Deciduous shade trees provide shade and scale. Ground cover plantings represent ‘seagrass’.
7. ASTRAL PATH
An loose gravel path around the rear of the Gingko Garden includes coloured steel poles set in a gravel base depicting lines of latitude and navigational markers. The poles are lit with inset LED strip lights.
Response to Judging Criteria:
Paradisi Australis Crucis strongly links the garden culture of Australia to the future, through contemporary expression of artworks and garden art elements .
The garden art references Australian culture through the use of artworks based on iconic Australian brand products. The culture of Australia is also expressed through the use of Australian plants and the large ‘island continent’ playspace.
The garden embeds environmental protection and looks to future embedded carbon reduced landscapes – through the use of low carbon concrete – utilising the ancient Roman technique of alkaline reagents in lieu of Portland cement as a binding agent for concrete pavements. Water use in the garden is minimised though the use of broad areas of permeable gravel mulches, and limited areas of irrigated grass.
Other art elements reference cultural links of Australia to China and the world, through the proposed carved characters and text onto the timber posts in the ‘Longitude Garden’.
The garden offers a range of play opportunities to children, providing stimulus to encourage repeat visits.
The various paths and linking artworks encourage exploration of the perimeter. The balance beams through the Island Forest allow for deeper exploration of the garden, as do the various cutouts in the walls and screens that frame the background views.
The garden is safe for children – there is no standing water, however water is referenced through the use of crushed blue glass to represent the ‘Southern Ocean’.
Maintenance is minimised through careful selection of material. Grassed areas are moderate, planted beds are located in blocks that are easily maintained.
The Garden Gallery offers potential for changing exhibitions of artworks.
The garden will change through the seasons and throughout the day – spring and autumn flowers and foliage will provide highlight, while evening lighting will present the garden as a totally different experience.