Architectural Design for Nanjing Constitution Park and the Amenities of Urban Living Room in Green Expo Park / azLa
Lei Zhang, Xiaohua Lei, Chenxing Li(Project Leader)
Construction Background – Constitution is the fundamental law of the country and the general statute for governing the country and the state. The full implementation of the Constitution is the primary task and fundamental work of comprehensively promoting the rule of law and building a socialist state under the rule of law. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed that adherence to the rule of law requires adherence to the rule of the constitution, and adherence to governing by law requires adherence to governing by the constitution. The “Seventh Five-Year Plan” and “Eighth Five-Year Plan” of the Party Central Committee and the State Council emphasize the need to “innovate carrier positions” and “fully implement the constitutional oath system “. Also, it needs to “set up a link to salute to Constitution in new citizen ceremony, youth-adult ceremony, student graduation ceremony, and other activities “. Well, learning, implementing, and executing the spirit of the General Secretary’s important speech, especially how to publicize Xi Jinping’s thoughts on the rule of law for the general public in a more lively form, to make every citizen deeply aware that adhering to the rule of the country and governing in accordance with Constitution requires adhering to the leading position of the CPC as determined by Constitution without wavering, adhering to the state system of the people’s democratic dictatorship and the NPC congress system as determined by Constitution, that is an important task for the promotion and education of the rule of law at present and in future. Since Nanjing has no specific place for constitutional propaganda and education, it needs to build a fully functional and comprehensive constitutional park that integrates Xi Jinping’s thoughts on the rule of law, the important carrier for promoting the spirit of the Constitution, the solemn place of saluting Constitution for all citizens, and the urban landmark for the culture of the rule of law into a whole, so that people can imperceptibly learn, revere, and salute Constitution. The Nanjing Constitutional Park project was issued with a construction planning permit on November 25, 2021, and a piling construction permit on December 3. The construction officially began on December 4, the eighth National Constitution Day, and was completed and opened to the public on December 4, 2022.
Project site selection – The Standing Committee of the Nanjing Municipal People’s Congress, in conjunction with the Municipal Bureau of Planning and Natural Resources, comprehensively considering urban public space, location characteristics, functional positioning, and recent implementation feasibility, decided to build a constitutional theme park with Nanjing’s characteristics at the location from the west of the Jiangsu Grand Theatre to the Jiajiang section in the Green Expo Park. The site of the constitutional park uses the Sheep Lawn as the main construction area. The planned land area is approximately 64,530 square meters and the total building area in phase I is 31,162 square meters, within which, the building area above ground is 6,921 square meters and the building area below ground is 24,250 square meters. Considering the overall planning and the current surrounding environment, to build the constitutional park with the upgrading project of Green Expo Park urban living room, the design of constitution park follows the principle of “three combinations” to create an urban public cultural living room for the public.
The combination of legal culture and the natural environment: Nanjing City and the Yangtze River are interdependent and coexisting. Yangtze River has nurtured Nanjing’s living regional civilization, profoundly influenced the city’s urban construction and development pattern, and provided a spatial corridor and an innovative carrier for the current and future development of the city’s ecological civilization as well. As an important urban public cultural facility, the location of the Constitutional Park, which is adjacent to the river, fully reflects the riverside city cultural characteristics of Nanjing, and further develops the “two banks of the river” into a fully functional, popular and vibrant new area, which will be a model for combining rule of law culture with the natural environment. The combination of legal education and livelihood activities: Green Expo Park City Living Room is adjacent to the under-construction Metro Line 9, and its east side is Yangtze River Avenue. It provides convenient transportation and a perfect slow-walking system along the river. The transportation accessibility is high and the sense of experience of the waterfront landscape is strong. A variety of leisure activities and public facilities ensure the long-lasting vitality of the area, making it a popular destination of leisure and recreation for public visits. The park makes full use of the ecological space and culture, sports and leisure activities of the Green Expo Park, making the general public learn, understand, think about, and study the law, nourishing the spirit of the constitution and belief in the rule of law in a quiet and leisurely manner, and cultivating legal literacy and the spirit of the rule of law in leisure and entertainment. The combination of the legal landscape and current landscape: the Green Expo Park has the perfect infrastructure and superior landscape and ecological resources. On the basis of not changing the original layout of the Green Expo Park, not changing the current form of the park, and not changing the overall appearance of the park, the design fully utilizes the existing infrastructure and resources to combine constitutional elements with the natural landscape, giving the park a new vitality. At the level of urban space, Constitution Park extends the Hexi cultural and sports axis to the tributaries of the Yangtze River and connects to the riverfront green axis. It has enabled the new-built thematic landscape space on the axis such as National Flag Plaza, Oath Plaza, Water Plaza, and Green Slope Lawn linking with the characteristic landscape nodes such as rule of law propaganda and education, Yangtze River protection, urban recreation, and ecological conservation. It creates a benchmark for the combination of the rule of law landscape and the original landscape of Green Expo Park.
City Living Room – In 2021, the Nanjing Municipal Bureau of Planning and Natural Resources organized the compilation of The Nanjing Charming Riverfront 2035, a detailed planning and urban design for the core sections of the Nanjing Riverfront, to promote the quality of the riverfront space by the constructions of nine “urban living rooms” on both sides of the river. The nine urban living rooms in Charming Riverfront 2035 are Yuzui City Living Room in Hexi, Happy Riverside City Living Room, Green Expo Park City Living Room, Treasure Ship Heritage Park City Living Room, Xia Guan Riverside Business District City Living Room, Shang Yuanmen City Living Room, Muyan Style District City Living Room, Ding Shan City Living Room in Jiangbei New District and Green Water Bay City Living Room. With the unique ecological resources as the background, the Green Expo Park City Living Room is spatially linked to the “Jiangsu Grand Theatre”, the largest theatre complex in Asia, creating an ecological, green, and energetic riverside fashion and culture living room. Integrated with Metro Line 9 Riverside Park Station and the comprehensive enhancement of “Ginkgo Li” and “Sheep Lawn”, it builds up a public vitality zone on the cultural and sports axis of Hexi New City, from Jiangdong Middle Road to Olympic Sports Centre, toGrand Theatre, to Green Expo Park, and to the Ecological Technology Island. The construction of Nanjing Constitution Park at the core of the Green Expo Park greatly enriches the cultural connotation of the city’s living room. It is the window for the city of promoting and showing the spirit of the rule of law, and it is an effective supplement for further enhancing the service functions of the city living room and improving public service facilities. Making Nanjing Constitution Park the core, the Green Expo Park City Living Room will become a public activity place with comprehensive cultural functions and convenient access for the public, which will well meet the diversified needs of education, innovation, exhibition, sightseeing, leisure and mass activities, and show the history and development, future and culture of the city.
Cultural and Sports Axis – Nanjing Hexi New City Urban Cultural and Sports Axis evolved from the New City Century Axis in 2004. The axis starts from the New Town Building, connecting the Olympic Sports Centre and the Jiangsu Grand Theatre to the west, and extending to the Left Bank Flower Sea in themed landscape areas at riverside, with a total length of about 3.0 kilometers. The Eco-Tech Island on the other side of the tributaries of the Yangtze River has reserved a plot for an urban landmark site in the master plan, which will serve as a counter-view to this important urban development axis, and highlight the importance of the development of urban public space. The axis is surrounded by public cultural buildings such as the Jinling Library, Nanjing Women’s and Children’s Activity Centre, and the Christian Mission Church, and it is an important part of the Hexi New Town layout called “one district, three centers, two belts, four axes, four gardens, and two special zones”. At the beginning of the planning, Hexi’s cultural and sports axis paid great attention to the creation of urban public space. By the pedestrian system, people walk from the west square of the Olympic Sports Centre, stroll through Ginkgo Lane block, cross Jiangsu Grand Theatre and Yangtze River Avenue Expressway, reach the lush greenery at Green Expo Park and continually promenade to Left Bank Flower Sea along Yangtze River to experience the beautiful scenery of the riverfront. The urban living room of Green Expo Park is located at the intersection of the Hexi city cultural and sports axis and the riverfront scenic belt. The axial ritual and ecological superiority of the site provide unique conditions for the construction of Constitution Park. The implementation of Constitution Park adds experiential content and diverse scenes to the cultural and sports axis, enhances the cultural connotations of the axis, further establishes its status as an iconic urban public cultural axis in Nanjing, and greatly enhances the cultural vitality of the riverfront scenic belt in the west of the river. The Olympic Sports Centre on the cultural and sports axis is vivid and lively, with two giant arches clad in ‘Jingling Red’ of nearly 400 meters spanning over the main stadium, representing the passion for sports. The overall design of Jiangsu Grand Theatre adopts the shape of “lotus leaf water drops”, with four “water drops” showing a petal-like texture, which is full of elegant literary atmosphere; Constitution Park is spatially carrying on, connecting the city to nature, and its form should complement the “lotus leaf drops” of the Grand Theatre on the east side, and the place should express the constitutional elements and reflect the spirit of the Constitution. The space is created with a unique and contemporary spatial vocabulary, highlighting the new influence and spatial vitality of the city’s iconic cultural and sports axis. Combining single cultural buildings with urban public space, and integrating environmental resources and spatial elements on a larger urban scale is an effective way to create an iconic urban memorial site. The surroundings of the site of Nanjing Constitution Park have superior landscape resources and mature public space. In the beginning, the design does not confine to Constitution Park itself but conceives a 1.8km-long axis and spatial movement from Ginkgo Lane to the Eco-Tech Island, which will extend the urban space and natural landscape, complement the Jiangsu Grand Theatre in terms of architectural form, and enrich the western part of the river in terms of business dynamics.
The square and circle form – The design symbolizes the spirit of the Constitution and embodies constitutional elements through the combination of square and circular spatial forms and numerical metaphors. The spatial forms of the circular sky and rectangular earth embody traditional Chinese philosophical thought, and the spatial forms of purity, basic core, origin, cohesion, inclusion, integrity, and completeness help to express the supremacy and fundamental nature of the Constitution and create a classic monumental public space in the city which can stand the test of time. The spatial flow of Constitution Park starts from Ginkgo Lane, crosses the Jiangsu Grand Theatre, reaches the circular entrance square of Constitution Park composed of the national flag square and sunken water feature, and then crosses Wanjingyuan Road to enters the central area of Constitution Park. The main building of Constitution Park is a circular constitutional education exhibition hall with a diameter of 100 meters. The circular exhibition hall encloses a square-shaped constitutional theme plaza of nearly 1,000 square meters. The theme square can be used for large-scale activities such as the constitutional oath and children’s coming-of-age ceremony. The theme of the northern relief wall around the square is the national flag, the national emblem, and the national anthem, and the theme of the western relief wall facing the main entrance axis is “All power belongs to the people”. The southern relief wall shows the supremacy of the constitution and people, and the electronic screen on the eastern wall shows videos of constitutional education and activities. The rectangular green valley on the north and south sides of the exhibition hall is the spatial carrier of the activities of the citizens at the Green Expo Park City Living Room. The green valley is high on north and south ends and low in the middle, forming a green slope facing the circular exhibition hall, and highlighting the iconic nature of the main building. The ancillary functions of the Green Expo Park City Living Room are arranged underground, including ancillary commercial, parking, and event facilities. They are directly connected to the Jiangsu Grand Theatre-Nanjing Constitution Park Station of Metro Line 9 for easy access by the public. The green slope is linked to the underground space by four circular sunken plazas, showing an integrated design of buildings and landscaping above and below grade. The flow continues westwards through the water courtyard to the roof of the preserved building named Listening Waterfall, and the spatial axis continues to extend across the river to Eco-tech Island. At the end of the axis, where it is planned a landmark tower on the Constitution Park phase II, to form a three-kilometer-long completed urban public space axis from the New Town Building to the landmark tower. The design adopts light-transmitting concrete and stainless steel paving in the lighting system on the active line at the first and second floors, to outline a red “light of the Constitution” lit up by modern architectural language. At night, the LED lights underneath the light-transmitting concrete are illuminated. The “red lantern” shape of the facade of the constitutional exhibition hall, together with the red line of the “Light of the Constitution” that is running throughout, make the image of Red China.
At the first site visit, the designers stepped on the roof of the preserved building called “Pavilion of Listening to the Waterfall”, looking back to the east to see the “lotus leaf drops” of Jiangsu Grand Theatre. When they walked straightly to the river bank at the same elevation as the roof, they saw the sea of flowers on the left bank. Looking far ahead to the Eco-tech Island on the other side of the tributary river at the west, they saw a wonderful view of the sunset. The main flow of visitors to Constitution Park is raised to the second floor at the same height as the riverbank, allowing citizens and visitors to walk from Ginkgo Lane through Jiangsu Grand Theatre, to Constitution Park, and to the riverbank directly. The ground floor of the Constitution Exhibition Hall is the open floor, releasing more ground space and greatly enriching the public space at the Green Expo Park’s urban living room.
Digits metaphors – The design embodies the constitutional elements by digits metaphors, to form a commemorative and experiential space narrative. Commemorative digits, such as the first constitution of the People’s Republic of China which is short for “54 Constitution”, the current constitution which is short for “82 Constitution”, National Constitution Day on December 4, and the two 100-year goals, are combined with the actual requirements of the architectural space. Appropriate geometric modulus and compositions are used to reflect the uniqueness of the combination of spatial scenes and constitutional elements in Nanjing Constitution Park. The elevation of the entrance square is 8.2 meters and its 82-meter diameter circular space is defined by two curved scenic walls. On each side of the pond, there are 50 red flags, which makes a 12.4 meters high flag matrix of 100 flags in total. The main building of the Constitutional Park, the Constitutional Hall, has an outer ring of 100 meters in diameter and an inner ring of 82 meters in diameter. The main backdrop of the Oath Plaza relief walls is 8.2 meters and 5.4 meters high. The landmark tower at the end of the axis on Eco-tech Island is 8.2m in diameter and 82m in height, etc.
Environmental landscape – Located in the Nanjing Green Expo Park, Constitution Park is surrounded by nature and lush greenery. The landscape design focuses on strengthening the urban cultural and sports axis, highlighting the sense of ceremony in Constitution Park and creating a more distinctive and pleasant scene for the urban living room of Green Expo Park. The design uses Nanjing’s characteristic sphere-free hanging bell trees to outline the outer boundary, and the dense planting forms a combination of colorful foliage to enclose the space, making Constitution Park stand out from the atmosphere of the Green Expo Park all year round. The design uses ginkgo arrays partially at the entrance space to reinforce the sense of ritual of the axis, and both sides of the central axis echo the Ginkgo Lane on the east side of the Jiangsu Grand Theatre to achieve an effective combination of function and look. The open lawn makes the main building more prominent and also provides a rich resting and playing area for the urban living room of Green Expo Park, where children play and chase on the lawn and sandpit freely and happily. It fully reflects the vibrant vitality of the open democracy of Constitution Park.