What does it take for a landscape architect to be hired in China? According to Martha Schwartz, there are two manadatory components of a project proposal: a powerful narrative and a gateway structure. This continues a tradition in Chinese architecture, painting and decorative objects.
Here are two examples of Schwartz’s work in China: The Beiquijia Technology Business District, Beijing, China. The landscape area is approximately 60,000 square meters of a mixed use development.
and the idea of narrative…
One of nine international firms, Martha Schwartz was invited to design a small garden installation on the theme of “the harmonious co-existence of nature and the city.
“The owners brief specified that the designer should consider the limitation of local building materials and methods,and that the garden should be accessible to a Chinese point of view…The theme of this garden installation is “City and Nature” and is composed of four elements: traditional grey brick walls and paving, Weeping Willows, one-way mirrors and bronze bells. The aesthetic direction was derived partly from vernacular Chinese architecture and its close relationship to nature.” marthaschwartz.com
This is a complicated project and I direct readers to marthaschwartz.com to see more images and read the text that accompanies the project. This installation/art piece illustrates how important the narrative is to the Chinese. As Schwartz points out the wall maize-like structure links back to the importance of walls as a popular element in Chinese culture, which relates not only the need to create space, but the need to protect privacy and express power.