Featuring a network of elevated paths, a glass bridge and rice paddy fields, the Chengtoushan Archaeological Park in China’s Hunan Province has been awarded the honour of 2017 World Landscape of the Year.
Awarded World Landscape of the Year at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin, the Chengtoushan Archaeological Park is located in a remote rural region in Chengtoushan in China. The park features a series of winding pathways that take tourists through paddy fields across a 6500-year-old archaeological site of Neolithic origins.
The city of Chengtoushan holds the distinction of being the earliest city in China and the region in which rice was first found cultivated. An important cultural distinction, the park’s development was undertaken with the intent to protect the site’s history. Minimal changes were made to the area, with the exception of the creation of pedestrian routes that would allow visitors to traverse the site without impacting the land.
A glass bridge assists this process. The structure sits 4m above the ground, providing far-ranging views for visitors across the northern aspect of the site. In addition, diverse wetland plants and patches of trees were implemented to aid ecological recovery. The glazed bridge and walkways with slatted balustrades are designed to ensure sunlight permeates to the crops below, where tourists can also observe farmers at work.
The judges were impressed with the “productive engagement between visitors and farmers who are able to maintain their traditional livelihoods”.
"This project reflects a hopeful and creative mixture of archaeological history, rise production and accepts the role of tourists in local production," said the judges.
"Rice growing by local peasant farmers is also preserved as an ongoing production activity."
Designed by landscape architecture firm Turenscape, the park has been designed to attract visitors to the area and the surrounding agricultural land surrounding the Neolithic settlement in Chengtoushan. Thanks to Turenscape the site is now an educational, playful and productive asset which aims to benefit the local community.
“Unknown in a remote region for decades, the protected archaeological site has suddenly heightened awareness, and tourists from nearby cities are attracted to visit the site to learn about their ancient ancestors and the origin of the food they eat every day,” claims the firm.
“Meanwhile, this poor rural region and particularly the neighbourhood has gained significant economic benefits through the development of tourism.”
No stranger to award-winning projects, Turenscape was also the recipient of the 2015 Landscape of the Year award for their transformation of a wetland park in Zhejiang Province.
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