Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin, Chinese port city architecture project photos

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape, Tianjin

21 June 24

Design: Ballistic Architecture Machine

Location: Tianjin, China

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin China

Photos by Wu Qingshan

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape, China

Ballistic Architecture Machine (BAM), an unconventional multidisciplinary design firm with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and New York, continues to challenge conventional ideas about urban landscapes, this time with an action-packed design for a sports park in a mega port city in China.

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin

Tianjin 4A Sports Park won the landscape project of the year title at the 16th Grand Prix du Design Awards in Canada, and received recognition at the Architizer A+ Awards for its innovative approach to embedding learning environments in public spaces through play. Join BAM partners Daniel Gass, Jake Walker, and Jingwen Guan on a design journey to Tianjin as they rethink the role of parks in dense cities and reimagine our relationship with nature.

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin

Palimpsest as structure: BAM celebrates ancient history with new design
“In this project, we were initially very taken with the site history, which included a temple and small town called Yixing town,” recalls Daniel Gass, co-founder at BAM.

Sports Aesthetics Tianjin China

Today, the site is a modern city built over the remains of historical Yixing, a town with a remarkable connection to another Yixing town in Jiangsu province. With the construction of the Grand Canal, the residents of Yixing moved their entire village and reconstructed a facsimile to the north of Tianjin city. While this historical town was destroyed, BAM utilizes the urban plan of the original Yixing as a palimpsest, resurfacing the lost history and giving it back to the community in a contemporary form.

Sports Aesthetics Tianjin China

Quadrant menu: Sport, food, fun, and mazes
The Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape project is roughly divided into 4 plots which overlap each other. These quadrants are defined by a central axis which runs northwest to southeast, connecting with the residential district through the mall to the metro. The other axis is a large central plaza, which is an open space for activities and events.

Sports Aesthetics Tianjin China

Each quadrant of the park takes on a unique programmatic identity. The northern quadrant is sports-focused due to its proximity and connectedness to the residential district to the north. The eastern quadrant is a food-oriented quadrant and connects down to the B1 and metro, where the main food and beverage facilities are. The food landscapes in the park consist of a beer garden and outdoor eating areas. The food area spills across the axis to the southern quadrant, which is heavily programmed with different forms of play environments. The play environment of the southern quadrant connects to the interior family-based programs of the retail area, and also spills across the central plaza to create an active water feature: the water maze.

Sports Aesthetics Tianjin China

The water maze is one of four mazes which define the western quadrant. The hedge maze, the earth maze, and the wood maze areas all interconnect, providing a variety of different maze environments for families to enjoy, with ample onlooking space.

The four quadrants break down into micro-environments, each with its own unique spaces and programs. The programs and spaces of the landscape are highly curated, balancing between the landscape, retail, housing, and metro.

“This park is designed to be a highly active 24-hour space, with something for everyone,” adds Guan Jingwen, partner at BAM.

The maze and the journey of learning
The maze has been an integral idea to the design of the park, connecting spatial and thematic aspects of the design together.

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin

“Both historic Yixing Towns were organized around a central temple and ‘Teacher’s Street’,” explains Gass. “The idea of teachers, children, and education are all linked to the various programs of the site, as play and athletics, is an important aspect in education.”

Spatially, the maze echoes the feel of the ancient town with its meandering streets. Symbolically, the maze represents the journey of learning, reminding visitors that in life, we continually seek our own unique path.

Ecological awareness through design
The ecological impact of the site is very much determined by its size.

“All of BAM’s designs are responsible in respect to the ecological functions of any site, like rainwater collection and flood management, but also the contribution of trees to the reduction of the heat island effect,” notes Jake Walker, co-founder of BAM. “However, in this project, we’re dealing with a relatively small site and we were able to fit the programs of a much larger park into a much smaller space.”

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin

As such, the park fulfills its main ecological function by generating greater awareness of environmental issues through two key features – a geothermal chimney and an interactive hydrological model water feature.

The enormous chimney within the project site, which functions as a steam exhaust for the heated water naturally occurring in this region, is transformed by the BAM design team into the park’s brightest highlight—a yellow eye-catcher during the day, and a shimmering watchtower at night.

The “Water Mountain” and environmental education
The other, and certainly more interactive, environmental element on site is the play ‘n learn “Water Mountain”. This water feature is an interactive hydrology model – a miniature of the Yangtze River delta landscape, the Three Gorges Reservoir, and the ancient Dujiangyan irrigation system. Children can activate water sources in the miniature mountains and use dams placed in certain locations along the water’s route to create reservoirs. However, if the water is not carefully managed, it will spill over into other waterways and continue its path to the ocean.

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin China

On the surface, this water feature reflects the Chinese landscape, agricultural and cultural development, and heritage. On a deeper level, the design speaks to humaity’s role in the heavy manipulation of the landscape and waterways. This feature turns an idea, potentially far too large and abstract for a child to comprehend, into a play environment where learning is not didactic, but rather inherent in the play. Through these types of play, BAM brings awareness to children about big environmental issues in the hope of raising a new generation of people with minds to fix them.

Connecting to nature in the urban condition
“Besides key ecological benefits, one of the fundamental purposes of a park is to connect to human’s inherent desire for what people consider more ‘natural’ environments,” explains Walker. “The scale of infrastructure and architecture can be dehumanizing, and that is where park spaces shine.”

“An urban park is not really a ‘natural’ condition, but rather is as constructed as the skyscrapers and towers of the city center,” adds Guan. “It may look green and full of trees and birds, but it is not necessarily nature in the same sense as the nature of the wilderness.”

“That’s why BAM’s slogan is ‘Nature is an Idea’,” concludes Gass. “The value of a park is to connect to our projection of what nature is and what nature feels like.”

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin China

The feeling of a ‘natural’ environment goes beyond simply adding greenery.

“The key is making places where humans can feel at scale with the surrounding environment,” emphasizes Walker.

“People tend to think of parks and public spaces in terms green spaces and open lawns, but the reality of a high-density city is that people are in desperate need of quality recreational spaces,” adds Gass.

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin China Sports Aesthetics Tianjin China

Sports as a design language
So, how does one design a park that provides a truly relaxing escape amid the concrete jungle?

BAM’s answer: ‘Sports and patterns!’—the studio’s favorite design staples. With Tianjin 4A Sports Park, the studio took it to another level, elevating sports courts of various kinds to become the aesthetic language of the project. By layering the design further with patterns of trees, plants, street furniture, and lights, and playfully marking various activity zones with stripes, colors, and geometric elements, BAM created a hyper-efficient park that offers something enjoyable for everyone, from young to old. Tianjin 4A Sports Park is a thought-provoking play with the boundaries of landscape, architecture, and the contemporary city—a design pursuit aimed at creating a shared retreat for urbanites.

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape in Tianjin, China – Building Information

Location: Tianjin
Design Area: 42,000 sqm
Scope: Landscape Design
Client: Sino Ocean
Water Feature Supplier: Mattering & ZAOME Studio (物质元素&造么)
Water Feature construction costs: 450,000 Chinese Yuan

About Ballistic Architecture Machine
Ballistic Architecture Machine, or simply BAM, is a multidisciplinary design studio committed to the design of urban landscapes. BAM has been listed as Global Top 100 at Kyoto Design Awards, received Special Mention as the Best Landscape Studio of the Year at the 2024 Architizer A+ Awards, and operates internationally from offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and New York.

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape Tianjin China

Photography: Wu Qingshan

Sports Aesthetics for Urban Landscape, Tianjin, China images / information received 212624 from v2com newswire

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