Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou

February 13, 2020 by  
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In Suzhou, China, an abandoned amusement park is being transformed into a 74-hectare nature park that will include a decommissioned roller coaster transformed into a habitat for birds. The innovative, adaptive reuse project is the work of international firm Tom Leader Studio Landscape Architecture , who won a design competition for the park and brought on California-based Kuth Ranieri Architects for help with the design. Named ‘Shishan Park’ after its location at the foot of Shishan (Chinese for ‘Lion Mountain’), the urban park will provide a variety of family-oriented recreational amenities to cater to a rapidly growing, high-tech hub. Located west of Suzhou’s historic center, the dated amusement park received renewed attention from the government as the growth of high-density neighborhoods began overtaking the outskirts of town. Tom Leader Studio Landscape Architecture’s winning competition entry emphasizes a connection with nature and takes cues from Chinese culture and the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Classical Gardens of Suzhou. Traditional Chinese ink paintings, also known as shan shui, inspired the architecture and landscape design for the project, which includes a variety of pavilions placed along a 1.5-mile-long promenade that encircles the mountain and the newly enlarged Shishan Lake.  Related: Perkins+Will unveil plans for green-roofed Suzhou Science & Technology Museum In addition to repurposing a roller coaster into a 160,000-square-foot aviary that will house around 20 species of indigenous birds, Kuth Ranieri Architects also led the design of the pavilions . This includes the Flower Pavilion, a 4,000-square-foot tea house; the 1,000-square-foot Lake Pavilion; a 13,400-square-foot Sports Pavilion; and the series of 2,000-square-foot Restroom Pavilions. The pavilions will be strategically placed along the path to frame select views. The architectural elements pay homage to traditional Chinese architecture and include cruciform steel columns, local blue brick screen walls, tapered wood eaves and exposed wooden joints.  “The pavilions are as open as possible, framing views and allowing pedestrians to pass through as they explore the park,” according to the Shishan Park Pavilions project statement. “Through a shared language of construction, geometries and forms, this cohesive series of structures provides amenities to visitors while seamlessly integrating into the landscape.” Shishan Park will also be embedded with a stormwater runoff system to responsibly capture and manage rainfall. + Tom Leader Studio Landscape Architecture Images via Kuth Ranieri Architects

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Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou

Copycat Tower Bridge in China sparks controversy

March 2, 2017 by  
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China is infamous for copying famous architecture from other countries – according to The New York Times the country boasts 10 White Houses, a couple of Great Sphinxes, four Arcs de Triomphe, and at minimum one Eiffel Tower. Now in the city of Suzhou, a Tower Bridge based on London’s iconic landmark is drawing attention, although the New York Times says it’s unclear why the bridge , which was completed in 2012, has suddenly been garnering international notice. Images of Suzhou’s Tower Bridge have drawn awe – one news outlet described the Chinese bridge as even more magnificent than the original. Suzhou’s bridge certainly is much larger; it accommodates a five-lane highway and flaunts four towers instead of two. Pedestrian walkways and observation platforms allow people to enjoy the views and architecture of the bridge. Related: China officially bans ‘weird’ architecture But not everyone is enamored with the Chinese Tower Bridge. Suzhou, which has been called the Venice of the East, has its own architectural traditions, such as whitewashed courtyard houses and ancient gardens. Some of China’s most beautiful traditional architecture can be found in the city. Li Yingwu, president of Beijing-based firm OAD Group , called Suzhou’s Tower Bridge plagiarism. He said, “I was really surprised that it got built in Suzhou, because it has preserved its culture really well. It shows that local officials lack confidence in their own culture. They don’t understand that architecture essentially is about culture. It’s not merely an object.” One news outlet, JSChina.com.cn , even suggested the copycat bridge would hinder promotion of the country’s traditional culture. Suzhou has 56 other copycat bridges, according to The New York Times, imitating international bridges like Australia’s Sydney Harbor Bridge or Paris’ Alexandre III Bridge. Architect Cheng Taining of the Chinese Academy of Engineering told Beijing News in 2015 some officials believe foreign-style structures bestow status on an area, making it look more modern or sophisticated. Via ArchDaily and The New York Times Images via CCTV Facebook

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Copycat Tower Bridge in China sparks controversy

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