Unlike most parks, Daxing Park touches the doorstep of the surrounding buildings. It is not severed from the city, nor isolated by a perimeter road. It does not sit as an island but extends as a park territory directly from the material of the architecture. The parking garage, subway station, restaurants, homes, and commercial spaces all plug directly into the fabric of the park.
In this context, the design of the park does not call for the broadly planted zones or grand spaces of the larger world parks. Rather it calls for a scattering of outdoor rooms, a sequence of intensely programmed and useable park spaces that fill this territory between the architecture.
Like confetti, BAM packs the space of the park with tectonically clear, geometrically defined rooms and spaces. These rooms are linked into a variety of sequences by paths meandering through the interstitial space, longitudinally and transversely. BAM seized upon the myriad activities and often comical ways of using outdoor space that we have observed in Beijing to make the park as a place for leisure, sport, and hobby. The old men’s chess pavilion interlocks sectionally with the Phenomenal Transparency basketball courts. A hillside entrance to the park connecting to the lower levels is coupled with slides to create a playground. A mini soccer stadium set into a sound-absorbing landform buffering the nearby residences from the highly active space.
The rooms scatter across the plan as tectonic spaces which stand in contrast to the interstitial spaces and landforms which present a kind of plastic space. The effect is a mixture of strolling sequences that makes little sense on plan and a series of landscape rooms that are almost architectural in clarity. Plastic space is used for movement and circulation, tectonic space for gathering, rest, and sports. As a result, the park is not compliant with contemporary notions of a diagrammatically legible plan. Some spaces understood to be viewed primarily from above, create definitive compositions, while interstitial zones, mysterious or seemingly cluttered in plan, form surprising vistas ranging from grand gestures to secret gardens.
The green interstitial spaces play an important role in providing tree canopies for shade, absorbing water run-off from paths and architecture, storing and treating stormwater for park irrigation, and all the other benefits ornamental landscapes provide. But it is very clear that these functions are secondary to providing much needed human environments for cultural engagement.
The Daxing Park prompts questions of the park typology in an era where private developers are keen to edge out the competition by partnering with public interests. Can these zones become truly public parks, or will they become neighborhood territories dominated by the lucky residents surrounding them? The case of Daxing Park points to a wide user base promoting a more public approach. Residents of the houses opening onto the park play chess and Ping-Pong alongside those who have travelled by bike from the surrounding developments. It remains to be seen as the park matures if the subway and park and ride facilities will pull in an even broader public to enjoy the park.