Watershed moment: a landscaping project in Fuzhou responds to the site’s topography

Residential complex built around a body of water with overhanging walkways
This carefully designed landscape architecture project is the brainchild of American landscape firm SWA Group. Located in Fuzhou, China, the scheme includes a residential complex with leisure, retail and hospitality elements.
(Image credit: David Lloyd)

American landscape architecture specialists the SWA Group have unveiled their latest offering in Asia; the Yongtai project is a residential scheme idyllically situated within Fuzhou's Red Cliff Scenic Area, bordering the Dazhang River in southeast China. 

Focusing on the landscaping aspect of this complex created for the Fuzhou Yongtai Youxin Real Estate, the project spans a large-scale, 45-hectare area, surrounded by twelve small hills. The area also features a strong water element, as it acts as a watershed for the region. 

The client's brief called for clusters of housing that would 'follow the natural site topography', explain the architects. The SWA Group obliged with their design blending seamlessly with the natural environment, adding lush greenery in-between the buildings.

An existing lake was preserved and became central to the plot, incorporated as a key public space for the residential complex. It acts as a focal point for the design, unifying the site. Public footpaths and sculptural bridges create a network of modern walkways and terraces that enhance the complex's circulation and lead residents towards the water. Wood, metal and concrete complement subtly the scheme's serene gardens. 

Apart from the residential element (from high rises to smaller scale townhouses), the project also features a boutique hotel, a shopping area and clubhouses for residents. 

This is not the only new offering from the prolific firm. Their Chongqing Dongyuan 1891 project near the Yangtze River was also recently completed, aiming to similarly incorporate the river's water element with the nearby Nan Mountain scenery to create a modern, yet sensitive, urban refuge. 

A bridge stretches over the water in front of the residential complex

The project spans a striking 45 hectares, including a strong water element and twelve small hills

(Image credit: David Lloyd)

A bridge over the water and the mountains beyond are reflected in the lake

An existing lake became central to the design, bringing all the elements together

(Image credit: David Lloyd)

Overhanging walkway and terrace with stairs, beyond

Public footpaths and sculptural bridges create a network of modern walkways and terraces for the complex

(Image credit: David Lloyd)

Bridges and walkways over the lake with the hills in the distance

The idyllic setting and thoughtful architecture encourages the residents to connect with the lake and the lush gardens

(Image credit: David Lloyd)


For more information visit the SWA website 

Photography: David Lloyd

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).