Monday, 8 December 2008

CityZen Garden


1. Constructs and creativity in the design.


The 228 Memorial Park proposal CityZen Garden aims in creating a powerful attraction for the Chiayi City and Taiwan by a fascinating interdisciplinary landscape architectonic composition of organic and industrial spatial elements moving freely between the different fields of architecture, landscape architecture and environmental art.

The design builds a dynamic dialogue between the man made, even industrial elements and nature resulting to a series of narrative spaces and movement. The subconscious feeling of the proposal is that of a ruin that is finding its balance to become again part of nature. As the attic is the memory of the house the CityZen garden is the memory of Taiwan, a public attic, where the visitor can be present in meditative surroundings bringing him closer to the subconscious layers of memories, dreams and wishes.

The historical trauma of the 228 incident is seen in the proposal as the industrial scar in the middle of the different landscapes of forests, meadows and water biotopes. The park introduces three basic methods of movement: along the architectonically articulated walkways following the central axis’s, along the circular running track through the different planted landscapes and the network of organic pathways. The three different layers of movement cross and overlap each other resulting to a great variety of choices to proceed. The narrative journey through the park emphasizes the harmony that has been gained by composing the post industrial ruin like scar as part of the present day growing, cheerful and constructive landscape. 

Landscape elements

The walkways meet and frame different combinations of landscape and architectonic spaces, some of which are more post industrial in nature and some articulated by water and vegetation biotopes. There are four overlapping landscaping layers in the park: industrial, organic, water and architectonic layer meeting with the different possibilities of the movement layers.

a. Industrial Layer

The industrial layer consists of a series of constructions along the central axis’s directed towards the central plaza of the park. The South-West – North-East axis connects the CityZen Garden with the surrounding park in the North-East and with the farming areas in the South and South-West. The South-East axis functions as the spine structure for the different service facilities of the park linked towards the surrounding commercial and elementary school functions.

On both ends of the South-West – North-East axis are located an asphalt paved square for social activities. The SW side is designed for street style sports including skateboarding, roller skating and BMX –biking and marked with airport runway signs and landing lights while as the NE square is more for traditional exercises like Tai-Chi or perhaps dancing. Both squares are shaded by Terminalia Cattapa individuals penetrating the asphalt surface. On the street style side there is also a half ball shaped skateboarding pool. The both ends also meet the circular running track leading towards the natural landscapes. These asphalt paved social activity plazas are framed by nature – graphical bamboo and the wild mixed sub tropical compost forest.

The squares are the starts of the journey towards the Center. The shining white walkways of steel framed gravel snake through a set spaces where industrial ruins or even waste and nature seems to celebrate each other. One never knows what is behind the corner, or so to speak, there is no straight way in the zone. 

On the South-West side the walkway follows a steel wall that starts with zero on the Street Style Sports Square after the running track and then rises gradually along the walking up to 6 meters in the central plaza. A similar wall out of wood is following the service axis from the South-East. The occasional bridges over the water surfaces along way are constructed out of 2 x 2 meters steel I-beams. 

Along the central axis’s are to be found different post industrial landscapes including:

- Steel Sheet Runway
• Military perforated steel made airport landing stripe sheets through which grass is growing.
• Rain water pools.

- Community Garden
• Wooden benches auditorium and outdoor space for performances, plays and other social activities.
• Swings hanging on steel I-beam frame.
• Heavy machinery parts as decoration on white gravel.
• Bischofia Javanica individuals.

- Post Industrial Meditation Garden
• Indoor meditation space framed with steel walls, steel roof and wooden floor opening up to a steel wall framed volcanic stone garden.
• Outdoor space with black volcanic sand surface, lava stones and a fire place.

- Rain garden
• An indoor space in a shabby concrete room just next to the grand Central Plaza.
• A viewing platform towards an indoor pool with open roof to let the rain in.

In a perimeter around the Central Plaza of the park goes a circular running track through different natural and industrial spaces. The running track is one of the connections between the different methods of movement and in itself an absurd but convincing element amongst the nature.

b. Organic Layer

The organic layer surrounds the industrial central axis’s and is present in one way or another in all the spaces and functions of the CityZen Garden. It consists. of three more natural landscape biotopes and of separately planted trees. The water biotopes will be listed in a following section. The Organic Layer biotope growths are:

- Mixed natural forest
• A rich wild sub tropical Chiayi type forest biotope with local trees, bushes, undergrowth and creepers. 
• The forest will be treated as a compost letting typhoon trees to lean in angle or rotten in contrast to the bamboo forest, which will be treated.
• An organic network of pathways will go through the forest easy for visitors to follow. The running track slices the forest as well.

- Bamboo forest
• Planted and treated bamboo forest.
• With the bamboo we are aiming to a graphically strong natural impact with semi deep spatial qualities contrasting to the mess of the natural forest.
• An organic network of pathways will go through the bamboo forests but maybe the running track is the best way to experience the spatial movement between the bamboo and the meadow and the forest.

- Meadow
• A planted and treated meadow of Chiayi area pots growing flowers.
• This will be clearly a showcase for the Chiayi gardeners but also interestingly framed with the semi-natural bamboo and the natural forest. The meadow should be ultra sweet, colorful orgy of flowers and bees.
• Organic network of pathways through the meadow and slice with the running track.

The organic layer biotopes will also present the park to the surrounding roads by a car speed rhythm of the three different landscapes on its every side. 

The planted trees in the park include Cinnamomum Camphora, Cerbera Manghas, Terminalia Cattapa, Bischofia Javanica, Gleditsia Rolfei and Koelreuteria Elegans Formosana. 

c. Water Layer

The different pools and water biotopes play an essential role in the park. The pools in general are not deep waters and are designed to require minimum maintenance. The pools and the water biotopes are in maybe the strongest dialogue with the industrial elements of the park as well as with the vegetation spaces.

The water element landscapes include:

- Underwater Industrial Garden
• Underwater collage of smaller scale industrial and past history personal objects to be viewed from the crossing I-beam bridge. The pool is 30 cm deep.
• The bottom of the pool is a mixture of flooring tiles and small natural rocks. No vegetation is planted, but not banned.. 
• The pool is connected to the neighboring rock lake biotope with occasional fishes visiting the Underwater Industrial Garden.

- Rock Lake Biotope Pool
• A natural water biotope matching to a rock bottom lake, but the natural rocks and stones are replaced by concrete. The pool should be 2 meters deep in the center.
• Natural vegetation including underwater and surface plants.
• Fishes and sweet water crabs to be introduced. 
• The Rock Lake Biotope Pool is connected to the Underwater Industrial Garden.

- Wetland Biotope Pool
• The fairly long Wet Land Biotope Pool is framed by concrete slabs and one meter below the walking level and so to be viewed from an angle above.
• The biotope consists of shallow muddy waters, wetland plants and possibly frogs, lizards, insects, crabs and birds.
• The natural elements are mixed with selected man made waste carefully placed to a meaningful collage.

- Swimming Pool
• The 50 meters outdoor swimming pool area is fenced as an autonomous section of the CityZen Garden and has a supervised entrance on the South-West end to the running track.
• The swimming pool will be constructed with underwater side pockets for fist to take cover.

- Sand Lake Biotope Pool
• The pool has a sand beach and a sand bottom getting gradually deeper from the beach towards the walkway down to 1,5 meters.
• The sand beach enjoys shade from the Cerbera Manghas belt on its North-West side and it has an entry from the Central Plaza.
• Concrete and re-bar structure installation in the middle of the pool.
• Sand bottom fauna including insects, crabs, shells, fish and underwater vegetation. 

- Volcanic Lake Biotope Pool
• Situated along the service axis the Volcanic Lake Biotope Pool has a bottom of black volcanic sand and lava rocks.
• On the surface of the water raises platforms of white concrete on which Koelreuteria Elegans Formosana plantations.
• No fauna introduced. The pool is 0,5 – 1,0 meters deep.

- Lotus Pool
• Big scale pool with a white gravel bottom gradually sinking from the shores towards the center down to 1,5 meters.
• Controlled lotus plantation mounted on rich underwater down soil pots.
• Wide beach of white gravel with occasional Terminalia Cattapa individuals.

- Re-bar forest
• Industrial water landscape with a forest of concrete reinforcing steels mounted vertically to the bottom of the pool and standing 5 meters high above the surface. 
• Underwater vegetation and carp.

- Underwater Zen Garden
• An underwater stone garden to be viewed from the I-beam bridge crossing above.
• Controlled stone growing underwater weed and gold fish.

d. Architectonic Layer

The architectonic layer of the CityZen Garden is mainly situated along the service axis on the South-East side linked to the Central Plaza. The service axis and the buildings along it can be approached from different directions and by different methods of movement. The axis meets the running track, the organic pathway network and the Central Plaza. The axis is also directed towards the elementary school and commercial functions on the South-East side of the park.

The exhibition hall and the auditorium are situated in the same building mass on the South-East side of the axis. This mass is also linked to an outdoor open space that can be used for outdoor exhibitions. On the other hand the whole CityZen Garden can be engaged to a bigger Biennale size art review. The exhibition hall building mass is divided in two parts by the axis walkway and the wall besides it. The auditorium is situated on the North-East side of the wall and the exhibition hall to the South-West side of the wall with an easy possibility of co-operation.

The office and storage building mass is on the North-East side from the exhibition hall opening up to a garden with Cinnamomum Camphora trees and a glass made Zen garden. This garden is also a natural choice for opening ceremonies and alike.

The shops and vendors are situated to a pavilion by the Volcanic Lake Biotope Pool and closest to the Central Plaza are the sanitary facilities.

The Central Plaza is framed by a scaffolding structure supporting three outdoor floor levels. The floor levels can be used as audience platforms for bigger scale happenings and as viewing platforms for the CityZen Garden in general. This building mass will be open air and exposed to the weather and thus be compared to an artificial hill. In the center of the plaza is a steel made 10 meters diameter ball buried underground with half a meter section exposed on the surface of the white gravel. The ball will be structured as an echo chamber resonating to the sounds of rain, footsteps and tapping. 

By the swimming pool will be a service building for entrance, toilets, storage and changing of clothes.

2. Response to the project site context.

The main orientation of the CityZen Garden is in 45 degree angle towards the road infrastructure and urban grid. The angle and the central axis theme of the design reinforce the connection and the green belt between the park on the North-East corner of the site and the farm lands on the South-West. Due to the orientation the service axis meets the commercial and elementary school facilities on the South-East side.

To further reinforce this orientation the park is designed to be entered from the both sides of the main axis. Additional walking entries are along the surrounding streets. The design team believes that the park will gain an unexpected amount of publicity and be famous both nationally and internationally and for this reason the suggested parking facilities are viewed to be insufficient and are doubled in the design. 

It is also believed that the relatively small site indicates to a more spatially controlled and articulated combination of landscape architecture and architecture to gain the wished impact of the 228 Memorial Park. The CityZen Garden proposal can be viewed as an acupuncture needle to the body of Taiwan treating the hidden energy flows, the Chi of the nation towards a mentally more sustainable future. 

3. Overall planning and feasibility of the future operations and management.

The park construction, economical feasibility and narrative quality of the time axis are clear to be controlled. The build facilities – architectonic service structures, central plaza, pools and the industrial axis’s will be constructed as a one go and will gain publicity and fire start for the park by them selves. The park can be entered already at this point and the more industrially dominated spaces experienced. This leaves time for the organic layer to be carefully planted, treated and for it to take time for the main role in the park.

The narrative quality of the vegetation overtaking the industrial ruin by the time is interesting. The park will change image slowly through the years, still being highly interesting from the very start.

The clear border between the natural elements and the man made ones, where to walk and where not to interfere helps the maintenance of the park and same time keeps the score clear to visitors in a brutally fascinating way. The visitor is walking along a bright red running track in a wild forest. 

A quality to be noticed with the proposed design in the connection with the future operations is the serious flexibility of the park towards various functions, even able to receive big crowds not harming the nature and the same time working perfectly almost empty. This is the quality of a ruin, which is in architecture maybe closest to nature.

CityZen Garden