Wilderness Garden and Amphitheater |  Lijiang, China | Z’scape

Wilderness Garden and Amphitheater won an Honour Award in the 2022 WLA Awards – Built-Large category

Within Pan-Himalaya Region, Wilderness Garden and Amphitheater is situated on hillside of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang, Yunnan province, China, at an altitude of 2560 meters high. The design effort draws upon the site, establishing a distinct closeness with indigenous Naxi culture and alpine nature in creating a place of comfort, solitude and peace.

Images Credit: Z’scape, Holi Landscape Photography

Wilderness Garden: Irrigation-free and Maintenance-free Experiment

Initially, the team and the client embrace an eco-friendly goal to experimentally create a wilderness garden without any irrigation and maintenance. They worked closely with botanist and local villagers to identify existing plant species and study the feasibility. It finds out that all existing plants has formed a very steady-state ecosystem in Lijiang’s Pan-Himalaya climate.

Images Credit: Ting Zhou, Holi Landscape Photography, morefotos

It takes a series of steps to preserve existing groundcover species and create a gentle landform: remove rubbles and plant debris, crush clay soil, remixed topsoil, refill topsoil and etc. Wild grass restores back to its original state in just two months. A zigzag boardwalk weaves its way through the grassland to provide visitors with an extraordinary experience with dramatic and intimate overlooks. Rustic rocks are used as land art to interact with the boardwalk and grassland and become a spiritual symbol of the wilderness garden. To prevent weeds from turning into flammable fuel for wildfires, it introduces stone walls and open grass spaces to separate wilderness garden from tree groves and structures.

Providing critical habitat that offers rich nutritional value and shelter, wilderness garden is a haven for wildlife. Existing walnut and pear trees offer food for birds, while a rectangular wildlife pond nearby provides drinking water and bath for birds and even for cattle. The boardwalk is lifted 60cm up to make sure that animals and insects can move without disturbance. Stacked rocks not only act as aesthetic elements but also serve as shelter for small animals. The wilderness garden becomes an educational center focusing on the importance of indigenous vegetation and wildlife to the biodiversity of the Lijiang.

Boardwalk and Educational Space of Indigenous Plants | Images Credit: Holi Landscape Photography, morefotos
Rustic Rocks Intersect with Boardwalk | Image Credit: morefotos
Image Credit: morefotos

Amphitheater: Artful Space for Local Naxi Community

On account of the existing sunken topography and good views of the snow mountain, the team artfully creates an amphitheater in the northeast part of the site. The ridges rise slowly from the ground and gently turn into platforms and slopes. Recycled old roof beams and timbers are embedded into the ground as stepping stones and interweaved on the ridge to outline a circular amphitheater as an elegant piece of land art.

Image Credit: Holi Landscape Photography
Image Credit: Holi Landscape Photography
Image Credit: morefotos

Natural play opportunities are embedded in the landform where children are running, climbing, jumping, dancing or rolling. A series of long benches offer historical views of the snow mountain and the best views of the central performance lawn. It also accommodates great opportunities for local sculptors to exhibit their excellent works and becomes an welcoming outdoor social spaces for artists. When a traditional torch festival is held annually, it transforms the whole alpine garden into an immersive and interactive environment to experience Naxi culture and craft.

Image Credit: morefotos
Images Credit: HYLLA, Ting Zhou, Holi Landscape Photography

Wilderness Garden and Amphitheater

Location: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang, Yunnan province, China

Landscape Architect: Z’scape

Lead Designers: Liangjun Zhou, Ting Zhou
Landscape Designers: Xueting Liu, Hao Yu, Liping Chen, Weiguang Hou, Hongjie Shi, Junxing Lv, Pei Han, Fang Qin, Chang Sun, Huiting Shi, Xinhe Li(intern)

Client: HYLLA GROUP

Client Coordinators: Qiujin Hu, Fei Yang,Qiaohou He

Lighting Consultant: Zhou Hongliang Lighting Design Beijing Co., Ltd.

Landscape Contractor /Local Naxi Carpenters: Shangri-La Hongmutang Traditional Wood Structure Co., Ltd.

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About Damian Holmes 5513 Articles
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/