Beijing International Horticultural Expo 2019, Design Competition Submission, Beijing, China
BEIJING INTERNATIONAL HORTICULTURAL EXPO, CHINA: THROUGH THE MIST
The Beijing International Horticultural Expo submission. This garden looks at the effects of gaseous air pollution on our health and well-being, its effects on our crops and flowers, while also showing the public that gardens are to be enjoyed, accessible and fun to be in.
This garden, for the the Beijing International Horticultural Expo, looks at the chemical nature, occurrence and importance of the various forms of pollution and the effects of pollutants on horticultural crops. The planting in the garden represents the effects on vegetable, fruit and flower crops, turf grasses and woody plants. This garden also makes the public consider the future of pollution and horticulture, while it also reveals the use of sensitive plants as indicators of pollution in specific regions.
Mark has created a particularly eye-catching design, where horticulture, construction and engineering work in unity. One of the focuses within this design is a 20m high glass sky lift for one person at a time that lifts them through the canopies of trees, looking down on the garden from above, and then passes through a large expanse of clear glass that contains smoke to represent the amount of gaseous air pollution. Through the skills of the engineers the glass box is filled at varying thicknesses to represent pollution levels from London, Beijing, New York, Paris,, Sydney, Johannesburg and many more exciting cities. As the lift climbs the viewer gets to look down through the mist into the garden, for a completely unique view, as well as getting a spectacular view across the Expo. The sky lift also has a beacon light at the top.
The large lattice work of black metal and transparent red glass is a beacon among the Expo (lit up at night), and also supports the glass box of smoke. Lower down the public are given the choice of two directions, one flat pathway that winds through abundant planting of mixed ornamental grasses, irises, ferns and a selection of bulbs for continued growth and splashes of colour. The second route takes you down some gentle steps to be below the planting, giving the public alternative viewing angles across the garden as they descend. At the foot of the staircase the land falls away, stopped by a sheet of smoked glass. In front of you, engraved into the wall are two large, up and down arrows. At the press of a button the dropped piece of land rises to the height of the bottom step, the glass drops into the floor and the public can continue. The glass rises and the land slowly descends. Hidden from sight is a very low tunnel with a single shaft of light at the far end. Upon reaching the end, the public can look through a deep-water rill – there is even an arm sized hole so that you can put your hand in and wave to the people above.
In the opposite corner to the sky lift is a colourful, geometric walkway with different coloured glass – the light and reflections change the feel of the garden. As the hour changes the shadows and coloured light wells create mesmerising effects on the textural planting below. The walkway leads onto an open space for personal reflection, while sitting beside a contemporary circular wall sculpture, which represents gaseous particles, that picks up on the rounded mounds dotted through the garden and the bespoke orb in the centre of the space. The frosted glass screens in this area add another unique view of the garden, when seated.
Being the first garden designer in a wheelchair, Mark Lane wants to create a space for the Beijing International Horticultural Expo that the public can enjoy no matter their ability or disability. While the steps are not conducive to wheelchairs, Mark feels it is important for everyone to remember that all of us has something that we are unable to do – perhaps the stairs will transform into a ramp so that even the space below ground is accessible to all.