The Cloud Forest Plaza is an idea-driven public space inspired by the natural history of Wuhan, a City whose natural, urban and cultural fabric is defined by its location at the convergence of the Han and the Yangtze Rivers. The Cloud Forest freezes that moment in time when the first drops of rain fell. Raindrops created the rivers that sustain human life, act as highways of commerce, and shaped Wuhan into one of China’s most significant cultural, economic, and environmental centers.
“Rain Drops” are expressed by twelve polished stainless-steel elements suspended above the plaza. They reflect the surroundings, the plaza, people, sky and act as a landmark along the adjacent elevated highway. A Cherry tree emerges from each raindrop; the “Tree of Life” is born from water.
The white granite plaza beneath the “Rain Drops” expresses the land. Two edges are slightly recessed creating membrane pools that reflect the sky, the raindrops, trees, and the surrounding urban fabric. When the first rain made contact with the land, clouds formed expressed by ethereal mist emerging from the plaza reflective pools and adjacent rain gardens. The mist appears randomly, and sporadically like clouds in the sky. As water flowed over the land, it shaped contours and topography, it carved bays and lakes on its journey to the sea. Contours of brushed stainless steel flush with plaza paving move through the plaza and membrane pools defining the path of travel of the metaphoric river. Hand-carved granite ripples and splashes express the energy of raindrops as they meet the surface.
Rain gardens of native perennials flank the membrane pools providing year-round flowering plantings. Site drainage is diverted to the rain gardens where pollutants and sediments in runoff from the adjacent parking lot and plaza can be filtered before being released into the public drainage system and eventually the Han River.
The Cloud Forest Plaza is designed to be a comfortable, vibrant, and memorable nighttime experience. The poles that support the stainless steel “Rain Drops” act as platforms for plaza lighting projection and illuminates the Cherry trees and flanking Ginkgo trees. The ninety-six cables supporting the “Rain Drops” carry lines of LED lights forming a vibrant ceiling over the plaza at night. Luminous clouds of mist reflect in the membrane pools while contours of light lead people through the space.
Landscape Architect: Terrain Studio, San Francisco and Shanghai
Design Team: Scott Slaney, Jiae Lee Ham, Yuening Pu, Jason Yu
Client: Wuhan Fuzhi Real Estate Development Co., Ltd.
Architects: KPF, New York
Consultants: RFR Design Structural Engineers – Paris and Shanghai
Photographer: Insaw Photography