Dezeen Magazine

Wilderness Garden and Amphitheatre by Z'scape

Z'scape adds grassy amphitheatre and wild garden to hotel in rural China

A winding wooden path leads to a natural amphitheatre created by rippling mounds of grass at this garden in Lijiang, China, which was designed by landscape studio Z'scape and has been shortlisted for the Dezeen Awards 2022.

Located at the Linjiang Hilla Vintage Hotel complex, the Wilderness Garden and Amphitheatre extends an existing landscape designed by the Beijing-based practice last year.

Path leading to grassy amphitheatre in Lijiang
Z'scape added a winding path and a natural amphitheatre to the site in Lijiang

The new additions have been shortlisted in the landscape project category of Dezeen Awards 2022.

For the new area of wild grassland, Z'scape worked with a botanist and local villages to find native plant varieties that would naturally thrive without needing any maintenance or irrigation, introducing greater biodiversity to the site.

Amphitheatre and wild garden in China by Z'scape
A raised boardwalk allows animals and insects to move freely around the landscape

A wooden boardwalk, raised 60 centimetres to allow animals and insects to move underneath, cuts through this wild garden, with an elevated platform providing a lookout.

Areas of open grass, large rocks and two small wildlife ponds are interspersed throughout the garden and were also designed to help minimise the risk of wildfires spreading.

Benches in grassy amphitheatre by Z'scape in China
The amphitheatre is formed by mounds of grass in a sunken region of the site

"Providing a critical habitat that offers rich nutritional value and shelter, Wilderness Garden is a haven for wildlife," said the practice.

"To strike a compelling dialogue, a zigzag boardwalk weaves its way through the grassland to give visitors an extraordinary experience with dramatic and intimate overlooks," it continued.

The wooden boardwalk leads to the new amphitheatre at the north of the site, making use of an existing sunken area in the landscape's topography and defining it with concentric ridges that overlook a central performance lawn.

Recycled timber has been used to create simple benches that follow the contours of the amphitheatre's ridges and are dotted with works by local sculptors.

As well as a space to watch performances, the amphitheatre looks out across a dramatic landscape, including the UNESCO heritage site of Baisha and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Amphitheatre by Z'scape in Chinese landscape with views of mountains
Long benches in the amphitheatre offer spaces for children to play

"Natural play opportunities are embedded in the landform, where children can run, climb, jump, dance or roll," said the practice.

"A series of long benches offer historic views to the snow mountain and the best views of the central performance lawn," it continued.

Aerial view of amphitheatre by Z'scape with curved benches covered with snow
Long recycled timber benches wrap around the circular feature

The original landscape design incorporated the remains of an abandoned village built by the Naxi people, and every year a traditional torch festival creates an "immersive and interactive environment" for celebrating Naxi culture and craft.

Z'scape was founded by Zhou Liangjun and Zhou Ting, and has a particular focus on landscaping projects for cultural tourism projects, boutique hotels, urban spaces and residential developments.

Other projects that join the Wilderness Garden and Amphitheatre on the landscape project shortlist of Dezeen awards 2022 include a rural farm in Iran co-designed with local communities, and Heatherwick Studio's Little Island in Manhattan.

The photography is by Holi Landscape Photography.

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Wilderness Garden and Amphitheatre by Z'scape
Wilderness Garden and Amphitheatre by Z'scape
Wilderness Garden and Amphitheatre by Z'scape