Tianjin’s Sino-Singapore Friendship Park offers unique new place to celebrate nature

The bold vision for the Sino-Singapore Friendship Park in Tianjin Eco-City, China has been realised by Grant Associates as the park, which celebrates the strong relationship between Singapore and China, now welcomes visitors of all ages. 

Recognising the vital role that public parks play in allowing people to enjoy a wide variety of experiences in nature, Friendship Park’s design is built around spatial opposites – water and land, nature and city, sheltered and exposed – while a continuous landform maintains the overall design coherence. 

Inspired by the central creative theme of interlocking fingers between friends, the environmentally-focused landscape architects, known for award-winning work on Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, have created significant contrast and diversity on site, with the interlocking concept applied to both the park’s layout and in the finer detail. Interlocking hexagons have been used throughout the site as a recurring pattern within the paving and on textured walls.

Grant Associates won the design competition to transform the then-barren park in 2016 and collaborated closely with Eco-City, TEDA, and NParks on the implementation on-site to realise the vision for the Sino-Singapore Friendship Park. 

The design approach combines Singaporeans’ appreciation of immersive nature with understanding the local Tianjin context. The result is a unique park versatile enough to support a wide range of weather extremes. Faced with the harsh challenges of freezing winters, exacerbated by relentless northwest winds sweeping over the Gu Dao canal, the extreme environment rendered the site inhospitable for plants and people. However, the park’s ingenious landform and Secret Gardens now provide elegant yet simple solutions that offer shelter and protection for both flora and visitors.

“In Friendship Park, there is beauty to be found everywhere, in each corner of the site. Our design approach centered around creating connections and allowing diversity to flourish; paths crisscross the site, while a skywalk on top of the landform offers great views over the park and the waterfront. There is plenty of contrast to be found in the park but also strong cohesion – achieved through the hexagonal interlocking patterns, the secret gardens, an intentionally zigzagging layout and continuously-changing perspectives. It all comes together to offer very distinct and memorable landscape experiences for all people to enjoy in any season.”

Stefaan Lambreghts, Associate Director at Grant Associates

Besides being wind shelters, the Secret Gardens are enchanting attractions dotted around the site offering different planting themes and activities. One of these, the Wind Garden, is enclosed by a captivating kinetic wall, comprised of delicate hexagonal aluminium plates. The gracefully curving walls respond dynamically to the wind, with the plates oscillating alongside swaying ornamental grasses. The ever-shifting colour tone of the plates results from their interaction with the sunlight, with the intensity of the changes dependent on wind speeds.

Sino-Singapore Friendship Park

Landscape Architect: Grant Associates

Images & Text: Grant Associates

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/