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Is Landscape in China ‘Better’ Than Landscape in America?
景观在美国更胜于景观在中国吗?

You guessed it!! In China landscape is a ‘better’ design field than in the United States. Why? Because Chinese culture developed out of a garden culture.

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Historically in China, the garden is a place where people make paintings and write poems; where governors reflect on social orders; where scholars contemplate. Then and now, the garden is intertwined and linked to Chinese cultural expression. By extension, landscape is collectively understood as a place that should be designed. In China, landscape is a cultural medium.

In the United States, landscape is not viewed through the same lens. Even a healthy number of American practitioners and academics believe that landscape is not a place for cultural expression. American culture, in comparison to Chinese culture, is in its infancy and may never blossom to believe that landscape represents culture. In China, the idea is ingrained: people of all kinds see the landscape as critical to culture.

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BAM feels that landscape is the most important field of design in China. China already has great architecture, but when observing city public realms, it is clear that architecture isn’t helping the urban condition. The design of landscape is severely important to the city, because it deals with everything outside of and between the buildings, a realm which not only has the ability to diminish adverse effects of rampant architecture and robotic urban planning, but also provides humanity with what cannot be gained through the design of buildings and infrastructure alone.

Humans have an internal drive to connect to nature. Simply evoking the idea of nature has a positive effect on people’s state of mind and sense of wellbeing. Apart from personal wellbeing, spending time outdoors in the landscape encourages social interaction, which is nowhere more comically observable than in the Chinese urban landscape—far more heavily used than the American counterpart. Parks, streets, plazas, nooks between buildings... Inevitably all spaces of the landscape, like the ancient garden, are used for socializing, debate, and play, during day and night, across all regions and climates.

If BAM were practicing in America, who can know what we’d be designing. But in China, it must be the landscape.

CULTURE IS A TRICKY THING...

Culture is a tricky thing. Often times people do not want to address their own culture. In our experience, BAM seems more sensitive and interested in local culture than many clients and local governments seem to be. Developing places tend to want to forget local history, preferring to imagine a more aspirational future, whereby (it may be incorrectly assumed) a break from the past or current situation will give rise to a better future.

The problem with denying one’s own history is that when eventual development does occur, a place which was once unique begins to look like every new development across China.

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Daxing is known for its watermelons, and to us, this is an interesting fact. Where BAM’s park is now was at one point in time watermelon fields. Far too often this kind of history and kind of culture is not what people want to be reminded of.

The Jiugong project is adjacent to what once was Imperial hunting grounds holding a unique type of deer called a Milu, or David’s Dear. Such are points BAM plays with heavily in early stages of projects. But as projects go through the process of becoming realized, most things that can make a place unique are often first to get removed.

中国景观更胜于美国景观 。BAM认为,在中国,景观是一个比美国更好的设计领域,因为中国文化是从园林文化发展而来的。

在中国的历史上,园林是人们创作画作、写诗的地方,也是官员们思考社会秩序,以及学者们沉思的地方。以至于到现在,园林与中国文化的表达相互交织并联系在一起。推而广之,景观被理解为一个该被设计的地方,一种文化媒介。在美国,并没有用同样的文化视角来看待景观。在美国,人们普遍认为,景观不是文化表现的地方,即使是从业者和学者也是一样认为。与中国文化相比,美国文化还处于萌芽阶段,而且对于人们会认为景观可以表现文化的方面上,可能永远不会有结果。在中国,这个想法在我们所做的事情中根深蒂固;人们认为景观之于文化是至关重要的。 此外,BAM认为景观是中国最重要的设计领域,不仅因为中国已经有了伟大的建筑,更重要的是,当观察城市的公共领域时,很明显的看到建筑并不能真正帮助城市。对于城市来说,景观的设计尤为重要,因为它涉及了建筑以外的及其之间的一切空间,这个领域不仅有能力减少肆虐的建筑和机械的城市规划所带来的副作用,而且能为人类提供一些无法单纯通过建筑和基础设施的设计来获得的东西。

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人类有一种内在的动力去连接自然,甚至简单唤起自然的概念对人们精神状态和幸福感有积极的影响。除了在户外景观中活动给个人带来的幸福感之外,这里也鼓励社交互动,这在中国的城市的景观中,其使用率远比在美国城市的景观中要高出很多。公园、街道、广场和建筑物之间的角落,比如古代的园林等,几乎所有的景观空间都被不可避免地,不分昼夜、地域和气候地用来进行社交、辩论和游玩。

如果BAM在美国开设公司,我们很可能会设计建筑,但在中国,我们则一定是选择景观。

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文化是一个棘手的问题...

文化是一个棘手的问题。通常情况下,当地人不愿意去提出他们自己的本土文化。在许多情况下,BAM比客户或地方政府对当地文化更敏感,更感兴趣。通常,一些处于发展中的地区想要忘记自身的历史,更愿意憧憬一个更加宏远的未来,也是人们所错误地认为的,突破过去或现在的情况将会带来的更好的未来。然而,否认自己本土历史的问题在于,当最终发展起来之后,这个曾经很独特的地方,就会开始变的像中国其他的新开发一样。大兴区以西瓜闻名,对于我们来说,是一个非常有趣的事实。BAM所设计的公园之前曾是一片瓜田,但很多时候,人们并不想被提醒这段历史和文化。旧宫项目在古时候曾与皇家狩猎园囿相毗邻,这里有一种非常特别的鹿,叫做“麋鹿”。BAM在项目初期大量的使用了这些想法。但是当经历了整个设计过程之后,BAM逐渐意识到,这些使地方变得独特的亮点是第一件被剔除掉的东西。

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