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The Xi’an World Horticultural Expo


London-based Plasma Studio has won the first prize in the competition for the International Horticultural Fair in Xi’an, China. The ‘Flowing Gardens’ project comprises of the redevelopment of a large area between the airport and the ancient city center of Xi’an, known as the home of the Terra Cotta Army.

Plasma Studio proposes three distinct buildings of 10,000 m2 in total within a proactive and sustainable landscape. The project is a collaboration of Plasma Studio (building design) with Groundlab (landscape and urban design) and will be completed by 2011.

Circulation is the key idea to develop the whole scheme, the circulation flow begins as a single stream, and then broadens, branching out to form the borders of garden spaces. The gate building is placed at the junction of those flowing lines along the major axis, creating a frame view of the garden. According to architect, the construction will be started in September this year.


Architect’s statement:

‘Plasma Studio has been commissioned to design the International Horticultural Fair in Xi’an, China.

The project, titled Flowing Gardens, was generated as a synthesis of horticulture and technology where landscape and architecture converge at a sustainable and integral vision.

The proposal comprises of a 5000 sqm exhibition hall, a 4000 sqm greenhouse and a 3500 sqm gate building sitting in a 37 Ha landscape. The fair will open in 2011, receiving approximately 200,000 visitors a day.

The design team includes Arup (structural and civil engineering) and Groundlab (landscape design).


Flowing Gardens creates a consonant functionality of water, planting, circulation, and architecture as one seamless system. At the major intersections of the pathways lie three buildings; the architecture is an intensification of the ground condition, where each building stands alone as an object yet speaks of the interconnectivity of the landscape.

‘The conceptual masterplan is strikingly similar to an estuary. The circulation flow begins as a single stream, and then broadens, branching out to form the borders of garden spaces … the flowy circulation heavily influenced the buildings in the conceptual phase. It isn’t often that building forms bend to the will of the landscape design, but in this case it appears that the building forms actually mimic those of the landscape design as they extend out into the water.’ Olivia Chen


The gate building is created at the junction of public meeting space, landscape, and circulation; one enters the site through the gate along the major axis of Flowing Gardens, creating framed views of the gardens.

The exhibition center is formed at the seam of landscape, circulation and water; one experiences the exhibition center’s fluid lines as an extension of the landscape with vistas of the lake and the South Hill.

The greenhouse sits at the top of the South Hill, at the connection of various landscape features. The greenhouse allows one to experience the beauty of Flowing Gardens from across the lake while appreciating plants and flowers from four different climatic zones.’

Project: Xi’an Horticultural Exhibition 2011
Credit: P L A S M A STUDIO
Architect: Eva Castro, Holger Kehne, Ulla Hell
Design team: Jorge Ayala, Nicoletta Gerevini, Evan Greenberg, Hossein
Kachabi, Nadia Kloster, Steve de Micoli, Filippo Nassetti, Alfredo Ramirez
Collaborator: ARUP/ GROUNDLAB
Client: Chang’an Ecological District
Location: Xi’an City, China
Use: Landscape/ Cultural
Site area: 37 Hectares
Bldg. Area: 12, 000 square meters
Design year: 2009
Completion year: 2011



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