As I have myself experienced, what is articulately designed as a concept is so ever rarely built well in China. Compromises are made which may have been worse choice than the choice of building it at all. So I will give the benefit of the doubt here to the designers of the university portion of the expo because what was submitted to the Expo as a design didn't quite make it as built. As an example, the two projects above were a bit of a let down. The field of green towers ended up looking like this:
Area: 1005 sq meters
Design Theme: The path of life
Introduction: The Garden of Bridges is designed by Adriaan Geuze, a famous landscape gardener from Holland, professor of landscape architecture at Harvard University, and chief designer of West 8 city planning and landscape designing firm. In this garden, life is likened to a narrow endless path and also a labyrinth. The path leads to Nature, guiding you across thousands of bridges. Consisting of simple but potent elements such as bridges, narrow paths and bamboo, the design tries to give people a strong impact both in vision, scale and emotion. Every bridge will be passed as their locations are elaborately arranged to accord with the general layout of the Expo, offering different views from each, so that visitors on the bridges can appreciate the landscape.
Area: 1054 sq meters
Design Theme: The most primitive and truest behaviors of human in the variable and endless forest
Introduction: Maze Garden is designed by Martha Schwartz, an internationally renowned master hand and artist of landscape architecture, Lifetime Professor at Harvard University, has honorary fellowship at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and is chief designer at Martha Schwartz Design Firm. This garden is constructed with Xi'an's traditional 3 meter high black brick walls, which looks like a box from the outside. The space in the garden is divided into a series of roofed narrow corridors. Willows are planted in the space between every two walls. Over 100 little brass bells hang in the garden, making beautiful sounds as the breeze blows. When walking inside, visitors can not only experience the change of space, but also see the various behavior of others with the help of the one-way mirros set in the corridors.
Area: 1032 sq meters
Design Theme: Modern garden art displayed with Chinese landscape painting
Introduction: The Landscape Garden is designed by Catherine Mosbach, an outstanding French designer of landscape architecture; chief designer at Mosbach Landscape Architecture Firm; founder and chief editor of Pages Paysages; visiting professor at the Graduate School of Pennsylvania Institute of Art and the receiver of the 2003 Rosa Barba European Landscape Design Award as well as the Grand Prize of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). This garden gives visitors the experience of being spectators by expanding the garden's boundaries. It uses the art of Chinese landscape painting and gardening for reference, aiming at creating miniature natural sceneries which is similar in spirit rather than in form. This garden will fully display the traditions of gardening in a modern way in the ecological corridor of Xi'an International Horticultural Expo, 2011.
Area: 1002 sq meters
Design Theme: leave the garden, leave the hole, to ther other end of the world
Introduction: The Big Dig Garden is designed by Martin Cano, one of the chief designers of Topotek one of the most progressive design corporations in Germany, and has received a number of awards such as the First Prize in competitions at Wolfsburg, Tiergarten, and Eberswalde. This design takes the earth as the model, guiding visitors back to the world the imagined in their childhood, where digging a mysterious hole in the ground, is a means though which everyone can travel to the other side of the world. The design empathizes with visitors' emotions, building a multicultural backdrop for them. It gives people the experience of transitioning from indoors to outdoors and from cities to Nature. Furthermore, it shows the combination and transition of two different cultures, broadening the traditional conception of garden.
Area: 1012 sq meters
Design Theme: Poetic quality of garden space
Introduction: The Quadrangle garden is designed by Wang Xiangrong, a presiding designer at Atelier DYJG in Beijing, a professor and doctoral supervisor in the School of Landscape Architecture, Beijing Forestry University, associate editor of Chinese Garden; chief editor of Landscape Architecture; editorial board member of magazines including Landscape Design, Modern Garden, etc., honorary professor of University of Hong Kong, and visiting professor at Southwest University, Nanjing Forestry University, and Zhejiang Forestry University. The naming of the Four Boxes Garden (Si He Yuan) comes from the Four Boxes Courtyard (Si He Yuan). The garden is divided into four smaller gardens, symbolizing a cycle of seasons. The ground of the garden adopts a linear flow and the plants, white gravel and tiles are made of various materials. the design pursues an artistic concept and poetic quality, where visitors can take part in meditation and experience the garden, demonstrating the Eastern way of understanding and appreciating gestures.
Area: 1031 sq meters
Design Theme: Expressive force of chinese rare species
Introduction: The Botanist Garden is designed by Eelco Hooftman, a leading figure at Edinburgh College of Art, chief designer of the renowned landscape design studio, Gross Max, receiver of international awards such as the First Prize at the competition of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the First Pirce in Colchester Invitational Tournament. This garden exhibits various noted rare plants in Wilson's collection such as metasequoia, the living fossil of cupresssaceae, Meconopsis punicea and highlands of Tibet. In terms of the space design, the designer adopts the baskets with crickets in and bamboo poles white separate the garden, the Botanist garden successfullly ahcieves the surreal transition from the forecourt to the outer court and the inner chamber.
Area: 1,001 sq meters
Design Theme: Recombination of eternity and instant
Introduction: The Passages Garden is designed by Vladimir Sitta, a professor at the University of Western Australia and President of Terragram in Australia. His representative works include the National Museum of Australia, and Fantasy Garden in Canberra; He is also the receiver of the 1981 and 1986 Berlin Peter Joseph Ronna National Award. This design integrates three unique independent gardens. Close observation will expose some exquisite sights. Inside the garden there are mainly scattered walls, inserted with some cutouts for people to take a glimpse of the indistinct sceneries in front. The birches in the garden are the witnessses of the seasons' change, with trunks turning from vibrant to barren and leaves from green to gold or red. The change of seasons and the automatic reproduction of plants indicate the transitory beauty of Nature. The garden becomes Nature's minature, offering residents in cities a chance to experience it. Read More »
Right, so if it weren't for the Master Gardens, the Xi'an Horticultural Expo 2011 would have been a complete bust. There was a special magazine that was released prior to the Expo detailing all of the projects and which acted as our guidebook. I do not have access to this guidebook but I can ask for the specifics and will post a link or otherwise an update when I do have this information. In the meantime, I've taken the time to transcribe each of the garden's sign posts. In the image above, most of the Master Gardens are located there, with the illustrations corresponding to roughly the real thing. You'll see once you see the photos. There were also the "Student Gardens", just west of the main axis but we'll get to them last, as that's how we traveled the expo site.