Excerpt: Le Meridien by Shma Company Limited is a sculpture-like landscape design project that creates an aesthetic public space with folds and weaves. A series of undulating lawn stripes represent the silk being woven up and down into fabric sheets by traditional machines. The landscape is perceived as a new landmark at the intersection and has drawn tremendous interest from both residents and visitors.
[Text as submitted by architect] The small-scale renovation project comprises 6,000 m² of landscaped area in front of an existing five-star hotel, completed in 2013 by Neri & Hu. The client’s brief calls for a stunning hotel frontage landscape to improve the overall appearance as well as simultaneously resolve ground parking spaces and vehicular movement. Being in a densely populated area, the firm set out to achieve a landscape that is interactive, imaginative, and artistically crafted in order to create a new landmark for the neighbourhood.
Paying tribute to the historical textile weaving industry of Zhengzhou, Shma created sculptural-like landscape weaves and folds to reveal an aesthetically pleasing public space. A series of undulating lawn stripes represent the silk being woven up and down into fabric sheets by traditional machines. An interval space is defined by matching the existing lobby pillars and architectural orders to stitch the landscape and building together in the master plan, seamlessly integrated with the car parking layout. A water feature with a sculpture is proposed in front of the lobby drop-off area as a main welcoming element.
The use of two different colours for the finishing of stainless steel for the planters is to play with the unique public and private characters of the urban hotel. When viewed from the public roadside, a brilliant bronze colour is used to project an outgoing and fun energy, signifying the importance of this urban corner, while black mirror material is selected to achieve a calmer and more relaxing emotion when perceived from the hotel side looking out.
Given that there are massive structures of a new underground metro station beneath half of the landscaped spaces, the firm took great care in the coordination of paving patterns, manholes, and planting soil depth to achieve a simplistic design result. That includes the camouflaging of four ventilation shafts and an emergency staircase structure that pops up on the landscape, providing mirror finishes that make them disappear visually.
Once the landscape was completed, the whole hotel district was lightened by the wavy lawn stripe, the unified reflective water feature, and the interplay of reflection from mirrored planter finishes. It’s a privately owned public space that is quickly becoming a new gathering spot catered to a variety of activities, from a meeting spot for friends to a place for Instagram selfies to a backdrop for wedding photoshoots. The landscape is perceived as a new landmark at the intersection and has drawn tremendous interest from both residents and visitors.
In this project, the firm’s approach was to design and create a sculptural-like landscape for Le Meridien while collaborating with the client to solve numerous site problems during the construction process. The result is that Le Meridien has become one of Zhengzhou’s landmarks.