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Chengdu, China




361 ha


Open International Urban Design Competition


Project finished


Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Planning and Natural Resources, Chengdu Agricultural and Rural Bureau


Martin Arfalk, Patrick Verhoeven, Francesca Savio, Danny Bridson, Shan Jiang, Cyril Pavlu, Emilia Puotinen, Andrei Deacu, Alessandro Macaluso, Emeline Lex with CCDA/VRAP (CN)

An international hub of agricultural knowledge, education and innovation on the shores of Lake Sancha.

Chengdu Featured Towns - Flower Town

Flower Town was one of 5 sites commissioned to Mandaworks and CCDA/VRAP team for the Chengdu Featured Towns Competition. The competition had the goal of developing proposals for the design of Chengdu’s featured towns and the conservation and restoration of Linpan Rural Residences in the Sichuan province. The competition included a broad range of development and restoration sites around China’s fourth-largest city, providing the opportunity to explore the qualities and potentials of Chengdu's impressive rural landscapes.


The new development of Flower Town is sandwiched between two contrasting conditions. To the east is an emerging urban development that forms the southernmost tip of the Chengdu Tianfu International Airport urban expansion. To the west, the town is bordered by Lake Sancha, a distinctly ‘Chengdu' landscape that is characterised by its agricultural valleys, forested hilltops and fluctuating bays. Flower Town serves an important role, forming the threshold between the lake and the city behind it. Taking qualities from both, the vision for the town is to create an international hub of agricultural knowledge, education and innovation in a close relationship with its natural context. 


The ambition of the development strategy is to celebrate the magnificent qualities of the existing landscape while introducing new functions and purposes to its fields, slopes, and ridges. Through a careful analysis of the site’s topography and the local principles of spatial organisation, a sensitive development strategy was developed. The concept invites the lakefront character deep into the site and protects the forested hilltops to create robust natural corridors and natural networks. A colourful network of gardens is placed in the fertile lowlands, transforming the landscape from agricultural to botanical.


The colourful garden network forms a spectacular collection of ‘pearl’ gardens along the water’s edge. The gardens support the dual purpose of creating a clustered testbed of botanical innovation while forming a remarkable attraction for visitors to Lake Sancha. The gardens take on different roles and characters in the network, connected by lake trails, district loops, and hiking pathways. In Flower Town, the landscape is filled with a dazzling variation of plants and colours. The vegetation transforms from season to season, resulting in an evolving experience for those who live, work and visit the town. Flower Town is a celebration of the deep and timeless connection between people and the plants we cultivate. 

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The concept invites the lake into the site and merges with the existing landscape to create robust natural networks.

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Lakefront Pearls

The unique gardens of flower and plant species create a world-class botanical collection.

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A Botanical Innovation Hub

The greenhouse, laboratory and conference centre provide space for research and innovation in plant species.

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Research Gardens

The focus areas each serve a clear purpose combining the needs of tourists, researchers and companies.

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Celebrating the existing landscape

The preserved forested hilltops serve an important ecological purpose, providing habitats for local flora and fauna and complementing the new garden network.

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Adventure Hiking Trails

A well connected hiking trail network stitches together the hilltops and the lakefront. Visitors will discover pavilions, lookout towers, rest stops along the way.


Landscape Strategies

The landscape approach is organised around a set of strategies that open up the lakefront and forests in a variety of sequences and experiences.

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Complement with colour

The gardens celebrate plant species and use their colours, structure, form, scents and textures to create unique experiences.

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Contrast & harmony

The bright colours of the gardens meet the natural building materials to create harmonious and iconic environments.

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From agricultural to botanical

The production landscape leads down to the water’s edge and repurposes the farmland for research and development.

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