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Sunken Garden

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The concept of working with 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 ShouZou 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 dimensions, 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.


Given that the site has a strong linear character, the first design task is the structuring of two corridors parallel to the main axis. The longer corridor takes the user through a strong experience of being surrounded by concrete, steel corten and ultimately immersed in a dense canopy of vegetation. The canyon effect is achieved thought the incorporation of oversized pots which delineate the path and are both micro gardens or pocket landscapes which can be either entered or observed from the exterior. The second corridor, which stems from the first one, moves from the feeling of being under the Landscape, to that of being on top of the landscape. In order to do this, a gentle slope places the spectator on a slightly upper position, while the pot is lowered slightly. The combine effect reverts the effect of the main axis in such a way that the hanging gardens have given way to a sunken garden east of the corridor. Both corridors are linked through a series of landscape terraces of different materials, generating a diverse ground which is the ultimate responsible for diversity and variety of experiences.


The pots serve as meandering elements within the larger landscape, a large scale version of traditional ShouZhou garden component of the rock boulder and the miniaturized landscape within the flow of the sea. One can can observe each object but also imagine oneself climbing into it in an act of intimate relationship with nature. Some of the traditional gardens also incorporate an element of circulation withn 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 it a sense of totality, continuity and ultimate harmony to the park.


Exhibition, Public


Commission, Built


Beijing, China




Department of Construction Management of Horticultural Exposition, Beijing




1,000 sqm





partner in charge_

Eva Castro, Chuan Wang, Holger Kehne, Ulla Hell

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) by Plasma Studio is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.