Xiangmi Park, an undiscovered treasure box
Xiangmi Park is a historic place for Shenzhen standards. Originally used as an agricultural research center it was quickly swallowed by the extension of the city since the 1980s. During 35 years protected from rapid urban growth, the existence of the research facility also preserved a large lychee orchard on a hill, fish ponds, a flower market, many large trees and a palm tree avenue. Located in Shenzhen’s central Futian District, it was an undiscovered treasure box in the middle of a metropolis.
Shenzhen is rapidly improving the quality of life for citizens
This green treasure in the middle of the city had the potential to become a city park for the local community. Urban residents can reconnect to local climate, local flora, and local fauna. It encourages a positive new lifestyle: local, healthy, and aware of the connection and the responsibility of our urban lives for the environment. The masterplan proposed keeps much of the existing assets but enriches it with more possibilities to experience nature. New landscapes are added that serve as both, a recreational open space, a contribution to climate change mitigation, and an educational field.
Contemporary with an eye on traditions
The buildings in the park seek to engage with the nature surrounding them in many different ways. Rather than being an intrusion, they are devices that reveal some of the qualities of the local natural environment. In doing so, they stand in the tradition of classical Chinese garden architecture and at the same time they are activators in a contemporary and accessible new open park.
The library as highlight of the park
MLA+ designed Xiangmi Science Library is a lightweight building, connected to a ‘tree top walk’, a bridge through the park. The steel structure and the all glass façade form the base of the light and airy appeal of the building. Big cantilevers of powder coated metal serve as sun shading and make reference to local vernacular architecture. The program consists of a meeting room, a reading room, the book magazine, a terrace and offices for administration. Public spaces are lifted from the ground to emphasize the experience of nature and to create a vista terrace.
The library also is a public staircase. It serves as a connecting element between the level of the bridge with the ground floor. Perched in between the trees, the building offers an ever-changing experience of its surrounding landscape. This experience varies from floor to floor. With its dematerialized ground floor, it becomes a part of the shaded forest floor. Structural elements blend with the surrounding tree trunks. Upper levels sit in between the dense canopy of leaves and therefore have a more enclosed, intimate feeling. The very top floor offers the views of the surroundings and the city. Experiencing the library is like climbing a tree - a tree of knowledge.