In Xianyang, China lies a 300,000 square meter triangle called "Expo Valley." Here, Goldsmith has designed an underground convention centre. The conceptual basis for the building and its outdoor space is the Qin Dynasty, the first empire in the history of China, from 221 to 206 BC. The Expo, as the convention center is called, is designed as an inverted royal palace and is sunken under ground level. The ground level of the area will be designed as a park. In the ancient Qin Dynasty, palaces were surrounded by a number of special gardens.
The convention center is surrounded by a wood-like park with evergreen pine trees with a pattern of blossom trees within. The blossom trees announce the special sunken gardens, which are located inside the convention centre. The landscape transforms from dry in the north to wet in the south.
Twelve special gardens are included in the design for the park. The gardens are designed according to the lunar calendar and are sunk into the park. The lunar calendar gives a spiritual theme to each garden. A particular plant is associated with each moon. The Peach Garden and Lotus Garden are included in the convention centre as sunken gardens. They can be viewed from the Expo building, which is also sunken into the landscape.
The northern patio in the Expo was designed around the moon of March. The peach tree is the most vital, according to Chinese saying, because it is the first one to bloom. The Peach Garden is a blossom garden with spectacular flowering in the spring. The peach trees are arranged in orthogonal planting beds of various sizes. A meandering stream of water runs through the angular structure of the planting beds. Perforated screens have been placed alongside some of the planting beds, dividing the garden into fragmented spaces. The folding screens are transparent so that a relationship is always maintained.
The Lotus Garden is situated in the southern patio. The lotus flower, that stands for past, present and future belongs to the moon of June and is the symbol of purity and perfection. The Lotus Garden is a water basin with sunken paths. From the paths, visitors can view the lotus flowers floating on water at eye level. From the water, blossom trees grow in small circular planters and there are six larger, square islands, each with their own specific tree species. The lotus garden is a purely aesthetic and serene garden.
The twelve gardens by season are:
spring - peach, azalea, peony,
summer - lotus, orchid, osmanthus,
autumn - chrysanthemum, hibiscus, camellia,
winter - plum, silver salix, Armenian plum.
The moon of August, for example, is linked to the Osmanthus. This plant is known as "the sweet olive" or "the tea olive" because of its strong, sweet scent. It is a well-known Chinese flower often used at weddings as a symbol of love, fertility and peace. The Osmanthus Garden is designed as a large tent structure of hanging, sweet-smelling flowers. The visitor walks, as it were, into an oasis under a roof of fragrance.
location: Xianyang, China
design year: 2018
client: City of Xianyang
in collaboration with: Goldsmith