International Horticultural Expo
- Plasma Studio
- Xi'An, China
Flowing Gardens is a unique international competition-winning ecological environmental design collaboration between architects Plasma Studio and landscape urbanism practice GroundLab for the city of Xi’an on the occasion of the Xi’an International Horticultural Exposition 2011.
The expo is situated in the Chan-Ba ecological district of Xi’an in the Shaanxi province of China. Xi’an is known today for the Terracotta Army of
the Qin Dynasty (210 BC), and historically influential as the business centre for the Chinese interior. The Exposition’s intention is to celebrate horticultural and environmental sustainability internationally by example.
A radical self-sustainable vision for the future, Flowing Gardens comprises of three related structures and gardens to be enjoyed by the public,
each building ecologically sympathetic to its own purpose and future, interconnected with the environment by sensitive and sustainable landscaping.
The Guangyun Entrance, both expo gate building and access bridge, is the welcoming green arms of foliage that greets visitors, gently gathering
them through a seemingly overgrown entrance of fine steel frames, vaulting them purposefully over the road with an instantly commanding view to
deliver them to the second structure, the Theme Pavilion, and the expo awaiting before them.
The Theme Pavilion sits on the edge of Chan-Ba Lake, and rests as three parallel volumes within the landscape. Visitors can enjoy bright and
spacious interconnected zones, with the use of ramps to move through the different levels of the pavilion and onto the roof, with privileged access to
the surrounding integral landscape. The generous interior spaces punctuated by concrete and locally sourced bronze hover as they cantilever over
the lake and lead to piers for visitor boats to cross the water to reach the greenhouse.
The Greenhouse. Visitors reach the shore by boat to discover the partially buried giant gem. The entrance leads through a cut in the earth to
emerge in a light filled cavernous reception space, to a mesh of paths through different climatic zones with their own native corresponding lush
plant life. The greenhouse is shaped like a horseshoe and changes in size to accommodate the different scales of climatic planting, like a random
crystalline cave mixing the views and paths of the inside and out across the inner courtyard of outside space with two inviting ramps sloping up
over the top of the structure to lead one away further into the landscape.
The Landscape is a hybrid of natural and artificial systems, brought together in a synergy of waterscapes. Rainwater is collected and channeled
into wetland areas, where natural plants and reed beds clean and store the water, which is later dispersed for irrigation. These integrated wetlands
and ponds are intended to be enjoyed by visitors as oasis and offer points of personal tranquility. The gardens transform the artificial and natural
conditions of the site into a sustainable system to become increasingly more maintenance free as time passes, allowing the park to develop into a
legacy for the city of Xi’an and its children.