“A project like this has the po­ten­tial to re­ally chal­lenge de­vel­op­ers. By giv­ing De­vo­lu­tion Park an award, it’s our way of say­ing we dare you to think about a bet­ter fu­ture”


De­vo­lu­tion Park is a land­lord’s night­mare, and a guerilla gar­dener’s dream come true. In 2017, Chi­nese artist and ar­chi­tect Jian­song Tang had the rare op­por­tu­nity to use a va­cant 90-squareme­tre apart­ment for a few months and trans­form it into a green oa­sis. Haul­ing in cul­ti­vated soil, pot­ted plants and park benches, he formed a hilly ter­rain and a peb­ble-cov­ered path that me­an­dered through the two-bed­room res­i­dence. He used foam to build the grassy mounds, and laid down plas­tic to keep the in­stal­la­tion from leak­ing. Then, he in­vited res­i­dents to wan­der in. Lo­cated on the 27th floor of a 50-storey tower, the tem­po­rary park was a com­men­tary on the woe­ful lack of green space that sur­rounds most high-den­sity res­i­den­tial tow­ers, like the one where De­vo­lu­tion Park was lo­cated, in Xi­a­men, China. There, as else­where, the con­nec­tion res­i­dents have to na­ture is lim­ited by de­sign. Whereas pub­lic parks have tra­di­tion­ally acted as com­mu­nal hubs, tower de­vel­op­ments tend to make room for pri­vate parks that don’t en­cour­age neigh­bourly ex­changes. There’s also the is­sue of in­vestor units. Jian­song’s project of­fers an intriguing al­ter­na­tive to leav­ing them empty. What if th­ese boxes in the sky be­came parks or other types of so­cial space, even if only tem­po­rar­ily? It’s a pipe dream, but a good one that might just work its way into re­al­ity one day.

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