United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO prize for landscape architecture presented in Beijing

Paris - The 2002 UNESCO Prize for Landscape Architecture will be presented in Beijing on January 15 to four students of the Beijing Forestry University (China) - Zhang Lu, Han Pingyue, Li Zhengping and Liu Yanzhuo. The UNESCO Bureau in Beijing and the University organized the ceremony.

The $3,500 prize, founded in 1989 and awarded every year, is open to landscape architecture students all over the world and is organized by the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA). The theme for the 2002 award was the Integration of Harvested Water in Landscape Design* and candidates were asked to come up with a landscape design for an urban park or open space system using waste water or storm water runoff.

The winning project, called "Seeking the Lost Longhong Stream: West Lake, China," involves rehabilitation of the damaged eco-system of the slopes around the lake and includes a complete survey of its natural and cultural environment. According to the judges the project stood out for its creativity and successfully "demonstrates different technologies of water purification and water harvesting as an integral part of the design."

Located in Hangzhou, provincial capital of Zhejiang Province, the West Lake is one of China's most famous tourist attractions, renowned for its picturesque landscape and cultural heritage. The lake's surface area has shrunk continuously, and is today less than half of what it used to be and in a state of eutrophication. The reasons for this include accumulated silt, overgrown weeds, and heavy pollution.

The lake is fed by four streams carrying wastewater from agricultural activities, including livestock breeding and chemical fertiliser use. The sources of this pollution also include village guesthouses, schools, farmlands and tea-plantations. Downstream, the polluted waters of the West Lake supply Hangzhou.

The local government wants to improve the area's ecological system, restoring the lake to its original size and surrounding wetlands. It is also seeking to improve tourism by preserving cultural objects and sites along with flora and fauna.

The winning project concerns the zone around the Longhong Stream, which is the largest of the four feeder streams and the most polluted. The project takes account of present conditions and blends the region's cultures. Villages along the stream have the characteristic Zheijang style, and enjoy a rich cultural heritage, including tea production. One of the villages,, Dragon Well, has been famous for its tea since the Qing Dynasty, when the Emperor Qianlong visited and gave poetic names to eight scenic spots in the area.

The project combines various techniques for the stream's ecological rehabilitation including the filtering of withered branches and leaves; sediment pools to trap silt and polluted substances; the use of waterfalls, water steps and rapids to recharge the stream with oxygen; and expanding the area of the lake by flooding paddy fields and farmlands at the lower reaches.

Architecturally, the students have drawn inspiration from the spirit of Zen and the tea culture on and around the water. A work of Land Art in the form of spiral waterway illustrates the Buddhist principle of samsara, inviting meditation and reflection. The artificial development of the wetlands and Maojia Wharf will offer the possibility to take a boat across to the Lingyin Temple, one of the most famous Buddhist temples in China, renowned for its tea rituals and tea production activities. Villages will be restored and developed as service places, dedicated to the culture of tea, existing vegetation preserved and new native species introduced to improve water quality.

According to the winners, the project seeks to "regain what we had lost: the clear water, the spirit of Zen, the fragrant tea, the native houses" for the benefit of the West Lake and its people, "to enlighten people to take action to protect our nature and pursue the consummate state of harmony."

Source Press Release N 2003-05
Website 1 (URL) 2003 is the International Year of Freshwater. For more, see the website :
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Editorial Contact: Monique Perrot-Lanaud - Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section
- Email m.perrot@unesco.org
Publication Date 15 Jan 2003
UNESCO 1995-2007 - ID: 8734