Quarry Garden in Botanical Garden, Shanghai, China, 2010

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At the stone pit east-west “eyes” have been dug out of the severely weathered surface of the mountain. The platform-a section left over from quarrying-and a terrace to its north are made up of layers of retaining wall construction to avoid landslides. The site has an overall difference in height of about 30m and a more than 20m deep clear pool complete with islands of vegetation. The whole bleak robust site had great potential as a “garden.”

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The first step in engaging and repairing this severely degraded ecological environment was to recognize and respect nature’s capacity to repair itself if given the proper prompts. Here the microclimate was improved by increasing water on the site. Vegetation was recovered by via constructed landforms. The second step in the process was to understand the ecological damage that had been done to the site from an ecological and historical perspective and to reestablish a connection between the place and people. Patterns of the aesthetic Chinese landscape–traveling and staying; inside and out; absence and surplus, community and alienation, etc.-guided the result.

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The design as a whole integrates the existing destroyed nature with a series of strategic new insertions. Visitors shift between the two as they move from picturesque scene to picturesque scene on the site. Like a well-designed tourist route, visitors travel along a line to a viewpoint and then move along another line to the next “view.” They repeatedly enter into and escape from scenes and have a way to register their position in space. These spatial orders are extended and become understood as part of the existing while new interventions are integrated through interpretation. A kind of transparency-man-nature unity-is achieved.

The design improves man’s understanding of the Fourth Nature (destroyed nature), is respectful of nature in establishing a relationship and communication between the Third and Fourth natures (transparency) and warns people to avoid excessive development.

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