Fangshan Tangshan Geopark Museum | Tangshan, China | HASSELL

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The Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark, 40 kilometres east of Nanjing, is the site of one of the world’s most fascinating archaeological discoveries and home to China’s new Great Relic Museum. HASSELL designed the museum’s gateway plaza and surrounding parkland connections for the Nanjing Tangshan Construction Investment and Development Company, following an international landscape design competition.

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The major attractions within the wider park include the Hulu Caves, where homo erectus fossils dating back 0.16-0.60 million years were discovered in 1993, and an ancient quarry exhibiting geological formations of the Paleozoic era.

The geopark’s generous new public realm will unify the museum (by architect Studio Odile Decq) with the various attractions spread across its 15-hectares of open space to create an enlightening new tourist destination.

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“The design needed to cater for the tourist park’s commercial objectives, while respecting the site’s international significance,” said Andrew Wilkinson, HASSELL Principal in China. “Our response celebrates the plaza’s gateway status, the museum’s architectural form, and the geopark’s many extraordinary features – offering visitors an exploratory journey through the site that reveals its history and formation along the way,” he said.

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The overall look of the plaza echoes the site’s contour lines, which shift like geological activity. It optimises the existing topography to establish clear and seamless patterns of movement between all functions, integrating with the surrounding transport infrastructure and regional parkland.

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The arrival plaza and memory tower provide a gathering point, marking the start of each journey. From this space, visitors can take their own expedition to the museum, weaving through the feature gardens and along the climbing pathways that are embedded with carvings depicting the evolution of prehistoric life.

The feature gardens are inspired by the environmental characteristics of each period of the Paleozoic era. From the rocky, microbial soil crust of the Cambrian landscape, through to the Silurian wetlands and Carboniferous swamp forest, the selection and detailing of counterpart plants and elements gives the ‘prehistoric’ gardens an essence of that time and place.

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The parkland design regenerates native vegetation and creates micro-ecosystems that will foster the local habitat. A cleansing, bio-retention waterway will treat site run-off to support the health of natural environment and the sustainable operation of the park.

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The museum plaza, the first phase of the major landscape works, is now complete. Construction of the wider parkland will be completed in 2016.

Location | Tangshan, China

Client | Nanjing Tangshan Construction Investment and Development Company

Scale | 15 ha

Year | 2014

Project credits
Landscape Architect: HASSELL

Landscape Design Institute | Shanghai Julong Green Land Development Co. Ltd

Architect | Studio Odile Decq

Photography | Johnson Lin