Beijing Olympic Games landscapers

Moving mountains was no barrier for the Beijing Olympic Games landscapers in their quest to create a "green lung" for the world's fastest-growing economy.

Five million tonnes of earth was excavated to build a mountain that forms one of the centrepieces of the Olympic Forest Park, the largest green space ever built in Beijing.

The 6.8sq km forest park, part of a total 12sq km Olympic area extending north from the Forbidden City, reflects important aspects of Chinese culture. A 23ha dragon-shaped lake forms part of the 80ha of water systems.

Professor Hu Jie, of the Urban Planning & Design Institute at Tsinghua University, was one of a team of five landscapers who designed the park. He said intensive work had gone into developing a park that reflected the urban context of the Games as well as the traditions of Chinese culture.

He said the strong north-westerly wind in Beijing was also a consideration in the design, along with the use of water while the city is experiencing a shortage. He said: "People asked how we could use so much water... but we used recycled water from treatment facilities."

A swift tower in the park is expected to attract birds and help ease the problem of swifts damaging Beijing's old buildings.

Hu said native plants were key in the design as the park was not intended as a botanical garden but a park for the people.

- See vox pop, p21, and analysis in next week's issue.

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