The ancient art of landscaping: discovering some of Suzhou’s classical gardens

By Stefania Danieli

The city of Suzhou, located in the southern part of Jiangsu province, just a few kilometers far from Shanghai, is one of the top touristic destinations in China. Suzhou is mostly renowned for its numerous gardens, built in different epochs between the 11th and the 19th century. Today, nine of them have already been listed as Unesco’s Cultural Heritage sites as masterpieces of classical Chinese garden design.

According to Unesco’s description: “the gardens reflect the profound metaphysical importance of natural beauty in Chinese culture in their meticulous design”. Among them, the Canglang (Great Wave) Pavilion is the earliest one, built during Song dynasty in 1044 by the poet Su Shunqing, is a wonderful mix of “exquisite craftsmanship, artistic elegance and rich cultural implications”. The Great Wave Pavilion covers an area of about 1,6 hectares, with an artificial mountain at its center and buildings all around it. The design uses the existing water stream which forms a pond inside the garden, making the outer landscape penetrate into the inner garden. All the elements are harmoniously integrated together, creating an asymmetric and creative composition.

Chinese classical gardens seek to recreate natural landscapes in miniature: garden masters of every era used many different techniques to produce wonderful microcosms in a limited space. Thanks to a wise combination of buildings, rock formations, vegetation and water sceneries, the gardens are outstanding examples of the harmonious relationship between traditional Chinese dwellings and nature and they are extremely important because of the strong influence they had on the development of Chinese landscape design.

Recently, the Channel 9 of  Chinese Central Television (CCTV 9) shoot 《园林》(“Gardens”) a series of documentaries about Chinese traditional gardens. Check the video in the link below to watch the trailer!

23632d5Stefania was born and raised in Italy, where she took a BA in Languages and a MA in Business Communication at the University of Perugia. She fluently speaks both Mandarin and English, and by now has been living in China for over two years. Having been raised in a country rich of history and culture like Italy, she has always had a strong interest in art and architecture, which led her right through the Chinese landscape design industry. She is currently working as Marketing Director at Beijing’s based America Leedscape Planning and Design Co. Ltd.

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4 responses to “The ancient art of landscaping: discovering some of Suzhou’s classical gardens

  1. Pingback: Traditional landscaping in the North of China: inside Prince Gong’s Mansion | China Architecture Blog·

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