Songyang County, in China, teems with a rich tradition, where metropolitan life squeezes in the spaces around ancient temples, narrow streets, imperial palaces and buzzing markets. In the historic center, an urban and cultural redevelopment project was recently launched to improve both security and traffic. Where a market once stood, a generous space has been freed, destined to give the neighborhood room to breathe: a pedestrian area and room for respite in the frenetic city that flows around it.
Developed around the Medicine Palace, the Chinese Herbal Garden takes the signature of local studio DnA, who adjusted the concept to the genius loci. Here, the memory of herbal Chinese medicine is preserved with courses and dedicated programs that range from cooking to wellness. The goal of architects, realized in just six weeks, was to translate this fascinating and precious world in an immediate spatial and tangible language.
Chinese medicine has thus become a sort of physical public square, whose ground is presented as a virtual blackboard on which symbols and medicinal herbs are embedded. The herbs are displayed in an ordered sequence, divided in rows that trace the succession of the seasons, while the Chinese ideograms that flank them recount the history of this discipline.
Here and there, trees provide shade for the benches and punctuate the walkways between the garden’s different segments. Looking down from the homes that surround the space, the scenery resembles a painting or parchment, with green tufts creating the “punctuation” between Chinese characters. The text composed here isn’t always the same, but rather alive and changing, depending on the natural life of the plants as they bloom and wither, framing the city life that comes to a halt in this garden, basking in the history and nature.