In 2008, the C.P.C. Group founded by Qiu Jiang was selected as the landscape designer for the Bund 33 Park and successfully opened the park to the public before the Shanghai Expo in 2010.
By Emily Lu (translated from Chinese) / Pictures courtesy of The C.P.C. Group
After his graduation from Tsinghua University in 1988, Qiu Jiang went to Canada where he acquired his master’s degree in architecture from the University of British Columbia in 1990. In 1996, he founded the C.P.C. Group in Vancouver before moving back to China in 2001 where he started participating in more and more important architecture, masterplan and landscape design projects in Shanghai.
VANTAGE: Bund 33 was formerly the British consul’s private garden. When you started to design the landscape for this special area, where did you get your original design concept?
Qiu Jiang: Our design concept for Bund 33 was primarily based on a substantial understanding of the historical and cultural background of this area. This area is very special. At the time when the British consul first settled in Shanghai, the environments in China and Europe were totally different, so the first British people designed and built the garden as a result of their homesickness. They recreated their home here and we just wanted to continue this kind of idea.
VANTAGE: Your design theme for Bund 33 was to ‘reproduce’. What did you ‘reproduce’ exactly?
Qiu Jiang: The restorations of a landscape and a building are quite different. The landscape has a life. For example, trees may die after their life cycles of 20 years or 50 years, but their role is to hold the structure of a landscape, like the beams and poles of a building. We preserved the structure of the landscape in order to reproduce the historical intention and functions of the originally designed garden.
VANTAGE: Within Bund 33 there are four old buildings. Did the future functions of these buildings affect the design?
Qiu Jiang: Definitely yes. The new functions of the buildings were basically identified at that time. That’s why we reproduced its original design at the eastern part which faces the Bund and kept it not so much different from its past appearance. In the west part that faces the Rockbund, we designed several new features to fulfill modern functions, such as the catering and cultural functions of the square in front of the church, as well as the demands of the entrance and exit to the underground space. We also took into consideration the views from the south of the Peninsula Hotel that faces the park.
VANTAGE: What is the biggest difference between today’s Bund 33 Park and the former British Consulate Garden?
Qiu Jiang: First of all, the former British Consulate Garden was larger than today’s Bund 33 park. However, the park roughly keeps the overall form of the historical garden, while the functions have completely changed. When the functions of the buildings change, the function of the landscape features will naturally change with them.
VANTAGE: How significant do you feel the Bund 33 landscape renovation project is to the city of Shanghai?
Qiu Jiang: This is such an important area – it is Shanghai’s heritage, bloodline and origin. The city of Shanghai has two origins. The first one is Chinese, based on its geographical location. Although felt less strongly, the local culture of Shanghai can still be sensed in the City God Temple and many other areas. The second one is Western, which exists as a reference point for the development process of the city. Waitanyuan is absolutely a key reference point for those who are willing to understand the city that they live in.
Read more from the Waitanyuan Reconstructed series here: (coming soon)