Sunken Garden

by and / tag

As one of the designer gardens of 2013 Beijing Horticultural Exposition, Sunken Garden is located in Fengtai District of Beijing. The concept of working with a sunken ground comes from a mission of fabricating an experience both intimate and intense combined with a strong feeling of harmony with the environment and intimate contemplation.

Sunken ground looks at concepts present in Suzhou gardens tradition, such as the rock, the outcrop and the occidental equivalent of the grotto to then travel in space and time to the image of hanging gardens and further on to the concept of a sunken courtyard. The result is a combination both of intense distortions of the ground and an acute sense of three dimensionally, where one feels itself draped by concrete, steel and vegetation, free to explore a thickened version of a microcosm in a series of pocket landscapes for reflection, relaxation and ultimate playfulness.

The first idea is that of the canyon, as a compressed landscape into the space of a corridor. Natural canyons both have the intense spatial quality of the enclosed space, but also inherit the layered characteristics of the geological formation, showing strata, cracks and faults of the matrix rock. We wanted to use this feeling of thickness and formational to explore how architectural elements can fabricate a passage where material, shade and enclosure would dictate the main spatial experience. The “pots” serve as meandering elements within the larger landscape, a large scale version of traditional Suzhou garden component of the rock boulder and the miniaturized landscape.

Some of the traditional gardens also incorporate an element of circulation with these rocks, so that they become both miniature, but also belvedere and observation. Sunken Ground concept uses these traditions to generate a diverse experience where the levels inside the pots are thought so that visitors can experience the full three dimensionality of the park, climbing to the top of the pot, looking at other pots and the flow of people around. 

Finally, pavement and plan patterns flow along the entire site, giving a sense of totality, continuity and ultimate harmony to the park. These pots which contain external ecological environment are similar to the others in terms of material. But due to the fact of enclosure, visitors will not be able to enter. Inside of them are sets of artificial ecological system which are also self-sufficient, in whichmsome technical tools will be used.

All images © Plasma Studio

Project details

Design: Plasma Studio, AA Groundlab
Project Location: Beijing, China
Typology: Exhibition garden
Built: 2013
Design team: 甘力, 廖晓飓, 蔡恬岚 and 李翔 (Plasma Studio); 李卓, Alfredo Ramirez, Eduardo Rico, Marta Postigo and Aleksandra Cicha (Groundlab)
Client: Beijing Department of Construction – Management of Horticultural Exposition

Plasma Studio

Plasma Studio

Plasma Studio is an architecture and design practice with worldwide scope and outlook, engaging seamlessly a wide range of scales and types including furniture design, houses, hotels, cultural projects as well as landscape and urban planning.

AA Groundlab

AA Groundlab

Climate breakdown is the biggest challenge humanity is facing and requires a radical transformation of the design profession to address it. In response to this, Groundlab has teamed up with the Architectural Association to form AA Groundlab, the first design laboratory of the AA residence program. It aims to investigate ways in which design can help tackle the climate crisis through a diverse range of projects, scales, and stakeholders as well as to test new forms of collaboration. They are producing visualisations and cartographic tools to understand current dynamics of urbanisation so we can project and depict future scenarios and design strategies.