Located in one of the densest and most centrally located areas of Shanghai, Jing’an Park is a green urban oasis within a major tourist and business center. The park was developed across from Jing’an Temple, an ancient Chinese Buddhist temple.
Founded in 1954, Jing’An Park was later renovated due to interfering subway and light rail construction. Reopened in September 1999, the renovated park retained many historic features, such as the original Cai Yuanpei statue, Teacher’s Statue, marble kiosk, and old trees, whilst introducing new organizational design principles and a 70% increase in plantings.
The park is centered on the thirty-two 100-year-old Oriental Plane trees (Platanus orientalis) that flank the main road bisecting Jing’an park in two. The east portion features a small, historic Chinese garden called the “Eight Sights Garden” (静安八景园) which uses traditional Chinese garden styles and techniques to create a great sense of depth and space that belies its small size. The west open area is much larger in scale and features artificial mountains (假山) and waterfalls to create a “mountain forest in the city.”
Artificial mountains (假山) are integral to Chinese classical gardens. These rockeries, which represent idealized nature in miniature, provide structure and enclosure to the garden through the division of space. I loved that these rockeries could be experienced on three different levels: as a mountain range viewed from afar; by climbing the rough and uneven pathways to the summit (the visitor is forced to focus on the path, particularly with stepping on stones to cross small streams or navigating across a rail-less rock bridge); and from beneath the rockeries, in dark and cool artificial caves and rock tunnels.