Courtyard under Mount Qingcheng

Courtyard under Mount Qingcheng is a private property development in the Cultural Tourism town of Dujiangyan. Two thousand years of history of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System is a prime example of local’s profound research into civil engineering projects of water utilisation, and their wisdom in co-existing with nature that has become part of their life. The Courtyard project offers a new interpretation of drainage systems and terrain and explores the intersection of nature and modern design. The new living space reconnects humans and nature. Co-dependent on each other, painstakingly arranged constructions and local flora groups created profound feedback to ecology and formed a courtyard that belongs to the locals.

Courtyard of the East

The project spans 20,000 sqm as an island surrounded by urban roads. Houses appear to scatter across the piece of land. Terrain design drew inspiration from the shape of Mount Qingcheng afar, setting off the houses. Waterways wriggle along the valleys. Interplay of water and mountain is at the core of the philosophy of Chinese living space. Walkways are added on top with considerations for nature and functions, providing a variety of natural experiences, including open water surface to free interaction with forest.

Drainage System

Along the north-south terrain within the project, a complete water system that works as water drainage bio-filtration feeds the entire ecological system here. The drainage measures 200 meters long, including a small stream and a series of cascaded ponds. Landscape designers collaborated with local water consultants, using wetland plants and microorganisms to filter the water. Water from lower levels is pumped to the top, enabling bio-filtration behind the cascading scene.

Viewing Gallery

Viewing water waves is a local folk custom, one of the reasons why the Dujiangyan irrigation system has become a must visit of the city. The designer designed a viewing spot by the pond with the lowest water level. It’s a viewing gallery with one end reaching to the bottom of the pond. With water-proof glass walls, the gallery allows visitors to walk under the water and appreciate the ebb and flow of water, as well as the forest underwater. Dim natural lighting within the gallery creates an interesting yet mysterious atmosphere.

Flora Garden

Dujiangyan is situated in the Minjiang River’s drainage basin in western Sichuan, with ample rainfall and rich soil. The designers envisioned a flora garden of the courtyard. They researched the soil, flora, and climate of the Dujiangyan region, and carefully selected plants with diversity and horticulture value. There are 12 kinds of trees, more than 30 kinds of shrubs, and many ferns, grasses, wildflowers that are curated to create different experiences with seamless transitions.


The courtyard’s design emphasised the use of nature-based materials. The fusion of wood, stone, water, and plants creates a rich and immersive experience. Surrounded by these materials, people’s senses are easily drawn to the texture of the stones, the shadows of trees, and the marks time has left.

Courtyard under Mount Qingcheng

Location: Mount Qingcheng, Sichuan, China

Designer Name: Change Studio
Client:SUNAC Chengdu
Image Credits: Holi & Change Studio

About Terren Shi 116 Articles
Terren is an emerging graduate landscape architect with a passion for design theory and history. She holds a Bachelor of Design and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Melbourne, which she completed in 2020 and 2022 respectively. Currently, Terren works as a sessional tutor at the Melbourne School of Design. She also contributes interviews and essays on landscape architecture and design.