Red Dunes Playtopia | Guangzhou, China

Red Dunes, an innovative design showcases undulating red dunes that create an alluring landscape for children’s activities. By seamlessly integrating functional installations within the natural topography, the project evokes the charm of a mountain nest or a jungle treehouse.

It aims to inspire children and adults to immerse themselves in the joy of outdoor play and exploration by utilizing advanced design techniques such as parameterized design, drainage optimization simulation, and structural form-finding algorithms.

Parametric topography design 

Through digital generation, the topography has been tailored to accommodate the complexity and slope of the terrain, providing distinct zones for different age groups. Children’s activity facilities seamlessly merge with the natural environment, forming a cohesive space.

Digital calculation of natural drainage 

Meticulous calculations and simulations have ensured a comprehensive natural drainage system, effectively managing rainwater flow despite the undulating terrain. This innovative approach eliminates the need for surface drainage outlets, allowing rainwater to disperse naturally into green spaces and designated peak drainage outlets.

Concrete shell structure 

The project presents a unique challenge in form and structure with its undulated concrete shell structure. It emulates the cave-like topography of the natural landscape, providing climbing spaces above, and sheltered areas below. Inspired by the load transfer mechanism of natural arches, the design enables large spans and ultra-thin structural thicknesses. Integrating with the landscape it enhances visual cohesion of the artificial structure, reduces column presence, and optimizes spatial efficiency.

Practicing material efficiency and sustainable ideals

Concrete, with its formability, cost-effectiveness, and practicality advantages, has become a key direction in green architecture and the development of future organic structures. The concrete shell structure in this project combines large spans and ultra-thin structural thicknesses. Through mechanical calculations and modeling analysis, material savings have been achieved compared to conventional beam-column structures, with approximately a two-thirds reduction in raw material usage for the same span.

The undulating red dunes provide a space for children to run, jump, and roll while integrating a variety of functional children’s activity installations into the terrain. With its innovative design techniques and advanced technologies, such as parameterized topography design, digital calculation of natural drainage, and using a unique concrete shell structure, the project harmoniously blends functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability. It aims to inspire users of all ages to embrace outdoor play and exploration while fostering a strong connection with the surrounding natural elements.

Natural and Organic: Red Dunes Playtopia

Location: Guanggang New Town, Guangzhou Province, China

Client: Guangdong Poly Urban Development Co., Ltd.

Design team: XISUI Design

Architects/designers: Hu Yihao

Project Manager: Peng Yang

Structural Consultant: Shanghai Chenggang Structural Design Associates & Spiring Architectural Design

Construction: XISUI Design

Photographer: Hu Yihao, XISUI Design

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.