Awarded after an international competition, the Beijing Finance Center Master Plan creates an international destination in West Beijing. The project, which includes a mix of uses—housing, retail, hotel office and cultural facilities—is focused in terms of the landscape design on a central park known as “The Heart” of western Beijing. SWA’s work paralleled that of SOM, the building architect, and integrated urban design and landscape architecture into both the physical and cultural structure of the design. The large public park is a space which provides both an open public realm and a functional court yard for the district. A large civic plaza, which features a computer-animated fountain and light show, fronts Finance Street while a series of intimate courts center each urban block.
Combining contemporary landscape design with traditional Chinese garden philosophy, the Beijing Finance Street Park creates a unique international destination for Beijing’s cultural identity. The design concept, Architecture inside Landscape and Landscape inside Architecture, is a contemporary interpretation of the Chinese tradition of “Borrowed Landscape.” The design incorporates Borrowed Landscape in four specific ways:
1. Scenery Overlapping Scenery: In the park and architecture, paths connect one to another. Straight tree rows and clipped hedges are contemporary interpretation of the Chinese garden art of extending walls and buildings into the garden.
2. Gardens within Gardens: Small gardens are used within larger gardens, allowing smaller, more intimate spaces for fewer people to gather.
3. Water Cascading/Water Reflecting: A series of water elements strengthens the relationship of architecture and landscape. A water wall at the amphitheater visually extends the architecture into the landscape while pools at the base of certain buildings poetically merge architecture, landscape, and sky.
4. Planting and the Changing Seasons: Plants play an important role in the landscape and are used as both spatial and natural elements. Linear planting elements create both large and small spaces while landforms create sculptural spaces and open lawns create outdoor active spaces. Both deciduous and evergreen plants are used to express the change of seasons and rejuvenating qualities of the landscape.
Approximately 30% of the project area is located over garage structure and required a special approach in thinking about planting and landscape construction. SWA coordinated closely with the architect to accommodate the planting depths and waterproofing required to accomplish the design intent.