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This project is the exhibited work of a team of students from the Department of Landscape Architecture of the School of Architecture of South China University of Technology at the 2021 Guangzhou Garden Expo. The Expo is located in the Haixinsha Asian Games Park. It gathers many outstanding landscape works, including four groups of winning works for college students. The Disappearing Garden stood out in the student design competition of the 27th Guangzhou Garden Expo, won the gold medal, and became one of the four college students’ works finally exhibited in the Expo.
▼花园视频，video introduction ©消失的花园设计团队
The origin of the garden: the beauty of disappearance
Most people think that buildings and gardens should last longer, even eternal, but this is contrary to the natural process that all things will eventually disappear. We believe that a garden which finally disappear in accordance with the laws of nature is also a beautiful existence, showing the beauty of disappearance to the world. Thus, the concept of “disappearing garden” is used in this design.
▼设计策略，Design Strategies ©消失的花园设计团队
Flowers are planted on the ground to create a flower landscape, and balloons with cut flowers float above the garden. As the exhibition end, citizens participate in the release of balloons. The flowers in the balloons rise, explode and fall back to nature, turning them into fertilizers, nurturing lives, and restarting a new journey. The entire exhibition process embodies the concept of the disappeared garden and demonstrates the meaning of the disappearing garden. Therefore, this design regards balloons as symbolic device, using balloons with plants to metaphorize the close yet fragile relationship between human and nature, and symbolize the process of nature and life. The design incorporates imaginative stories into the garden, combine features of fairy tales and science fiction, and creates a garden full of artistic atmosphere, philosophical reflection and interactive experience.
▼花园全景，Garden panorama ©消失的花园设计团队
In order to test the floating effect of the balloon, the design team conducted a buoyancy test and effect experiment at the beginning of the construction. Balloons with flowers can rise to the sky under the support of helium buoyancy, but due to material specifications, the effect of some flower experiments is not good. Based on the research, the design team drew a diagram of the relationship between balloon radius and buoyancy, and determined that a balloon with a radius of 300-400mm was sufficient to support a balloon with flowers floating.
▼试验过程，Experimental procedure ©消失的花园设计团队
However, the problem of balloon air leakage is unavoidable. Floating balloons gradually sink within 1-2 days, which is far less than the 20-day extension requirement of the Garden Expo. Through negotiation and communication with various partners, we decided to adopt a compromise approach, replacing real balloons with acrylic “balloons” to express the original intention of the team while ensuring the overall effect of the garden.
Symbol: the disappearing medium
Acrylic “balloon” is the core element of the garden and a symbolic medium to express the original intention of the design, used to tell stories. Acrylic “balloons” are like balloons floating above the garden, the transparent “balloons” in the garden stand upright but are fragile, metaphorize the close and fragile relationship between man and nature. The existence of the way to conform to nature, whether it is the flowers blooming or falling, the fallen leaves caressed by the breeze, or the balloons flying away from the hands of children, are all scenery, with a heart of praise and love in front of the passing things, we will find more beautiful scenery beyond the eternal. “Balloons” with a diameter of 400mm are distributed on a grid of 600×600mm. A bouquet of dried flowers, two semi-circular spheres, connect with an acrylic tube to form a complete “balloon” device. The regularly distributed balloons sway with the breeze, adding a bit of unknown fun to the garden.
▼漂浮的“气球”，Floating “balloons” ©消失的花园设计团队
Time: the contrast of life stage
The flowers in the “balloon” are bouquets of dried flowers. The vitality is no longer but the colors remain, showing an unfamiliar journey; the flowers on the ground are full of vitality and are the most familiar and beautiful appearance, two different life journeys, dried flowers echoes fresh flowers, showing a different harmony. Standing in front of the garden, people may think about dried flowers and seek answers. Bunches of dried flowers symbolize the passage of time and contain the beauty brought about by the passage of time. When people step into the garden, it is as if they are in the river of time, reminding the viewer that each stage of life is unique and try to feel each life course. The beginning of life and the end of life are not opposite, but two equally beautiful life stages in life, which require understanding and praise.
▼花卉的两段历程，Two journeys of flowers ©消失的花园设计团队
The dried flowers in the “balloon” are mainly white, pink, and purple roses, gypsophila, forget-me-not, and blue thorns, and are decorated with yellow roses. The color of dried flowers echo with the color of the ground flowers in the garden, creating a fresh, refined and elegant atmosphere.
▼“气球”里的干花，Dried flowers in the “balloon” ©消失的花园设计团队
▼花园花境，Flower border ©消失的花园设计团队
Ups and downs: natural rhythm
The overall shape of the “balloon” is like a continuous mountain, but also like a smart flowing water, which echoes the background trees and the water waves of the Pearl River. The brisk and rhythmic undulating shape breaks the original shortcomings of flat and uninteresting terrain, it also increases the sense of space of the garden. While walking on the path, visitors discover the changing beauty of the garden.
▼“气球”海”，Balloon” sea ©消失的花园设计团队
▼起伏的律动，Undulating rhythm ©消失的花园设计团队
Interaction: a variety of height
The height of the “balloons” vary from 1000-2600mm. The height of the “balloons” create a rich experience for people. Some “balloons” are short and touchable, even children can have a close look at the dried flowers in the balloons; those high ones, visitors look up and appreciate the sunlight shining on the “balloons” through the shade of the trees, and the mottled light and shadow add a bit of mystery to the unattainable “balloons”. Looking up or looking down, various perspective bring a variety of experiences.
▼“气球”与东西塔遥相呼应，”Balloon” echoes the east and west towers ©消失的花园设计团队
▼“气球”与广州塔，”Balloon” and Canton Tower ©消失的花园设计团队
▼近观“气球”，A close look at the “balloon” ©消失的花园设计团队
We have set up a best shooting spot for tourists in the garden. The undulating “balloons” all around present an embracing effect, and the tourists are more intimate with the “balloons”.
▼掌心的“气球”， “Balloon” in palm ©消失的花园设计团队
▼夜幕下的“气球”， “Balloons” at night ©消失的花园设计团队
▼花园平面，Garden plan ©消失的花园设计团队
▼花园立面，Elevation of garden ©消失的花园设计团队
项目设计 & 完成年份：2020 & 2021
Project name：Disappearing Garden
Design：Department of Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture, South China University of Technology
Design & Completion Period：2020 & 2021
Leader designer & Team：Luo Yuchen, Zhu Xin, Huang Ziqian, Zhao Yinan, He Chenghong, Zhong Heli
Instructor：Lin Guangsi, Xiao Lei
Project location：Haixinsha Asian Games Park, Guangzhou
Gross Built Area (square meters)：40m²
Photo credits：Design team of Disappearing Garden
Partners：Guangzhou Zhongsen Landscaping Engineering Co., Ltd.