Kic Park

Kic Park located at Yangpu, Shanghai, China is a project by 3GATTI Architecture Studio. This project was submitted to Architecture News Plus (ANP) by 3GATTI Architecture Studio. Project’s programme: Public open spaces, gardens, playgrounds, resting areas, advertising supports.


Kik Park is a leftover urban area that Francesco Gatti is surprised to see has escaped being built-up and which is positioned at the entrance to the Kic Village, constructed in recent years for the students at the nearby universities of Fudan and Tongji. Since 2005 when the Italian architect transferred part of his professional activities to China he has recurrently been interested in the possibility of designing interstice spaces – as in the case of the In Factory JingAn Six Loft Buildings (2006), where the outside areas of the redevelopment project were treated on a par with a residential and work environment.

An essential element in his designs has always taken account of inter-activity: in this case between the people concerned (their actions and activities) and the influence of natural elements such as weather and sounds.

In this sense the forms and materials used by the architect (ethereal false ceilings constructed with metal wires, curved forms, faceted voluminous shapes, dappled coverings or panelling) vary depending on the project and its scale. Some solutions are used “una tantum” as they are in response to a specific and contextual condition.

This is the case with Kic Park where Francesco Gatti has imagined a pleated wooden floor destined to be suitable for all the functions that are indispensible in a public area (seats, green spaces, pathways, publicity panels …).

The image used by the architect to illustrate his idea – that of a sheet of paper cut and folded like a fan – brings to mind the epigenetic description that Deleuze gives of spaces characterized by the use of a fold:

Development and evolution are concepts that have changed their significance, because today they designate epigenesis or the apparition of organisms or organs that are neither pre-formed nor built-in but formed from different objects that do not resemble them […] With epigenesis the organic fold is sought after, produced, and multiplied from a surface that is relatively flat and uniform. *

In this way Gatti, using a generic and characterless basis, has accomplished plastic results that are both individual and original, and has introduced divergent intervals into an area that would otherwise be anonymous – thus enabling people to find their own personal space.

The architect has covered the whole surface with wood, an ideal primitive material that is both flexible and hospitable, that grows old and shows the temporary nature of the operation.

Where the wood rises up, one can see a living underworld made of grass and trees.

The architect in this way has predisposed specific spaces where people can chat together, have a rest, or even go skateboarding. A social carpet that does not exclude the coexistence of aggregation and individualism.

* Approximate translation from Le Pli, Leibniz et le Baroque, éd. Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1988

  • Project name: Kic Park
  • Location: Yangpu, Shanghai, China
  • Program: Public open spaces, gardens, playgrounds, resting areas, advertising supports
  • Area: Total floor area: 1,100 m2
  • Year: Completion: 2009
  • More details: Materials: Wooden deck, steel structure, brick walls, acrylic boards
  • Client: Shui On Development Limited
  • Project by: 3GATTI Architecture Studio
  • Team: Project team: Francesco Gatti, Summer Nie • Collaborators: Nicole Ni, Francesco Negri, Dalius Ripley, Michele Ruju, Muavii Sun, Charles Mariambourg
  • Text: Giampiero Sanguigni. Courtesy of 3GATTI Architecture Studio
  • Images: Courtesy of 3GATTI Architecture Studio

Potemkin – Post Industrial Meditation Park

Potemkin – Post Industrial Meditation Park located at Kuramata, Echigo-Tsumari, Japan is a project by Marco Casagrande + Sami Rintala. This project was submitted to Architecture News Plus (ANP) by Casagrande Laboratory. Project’s programme: Artistically articulated collage of recycled urban and industrial waste. Potemkin – Post Industrial Meditation Park has nineimages.


Potemkin stands as a post industrial temple, the Acropolis to re-think of the connection between the modern man and nature. I see Potemkin as a cultivated junk yard situated between the ancient rice fields and the river with a straight axis to the Shinto temple.

The park is founded on an illegal garbage dump. The architecture was drawn on site in 1:1 scale on snow by walking the lines with snow-shoes and then built up when the snow melted. Echigo-Tsumari region may get 3 meters of snow.

The Potemkin is an artistically articulated collage of recycled urban and industrial waste, an industrial ruin for post-industrial meditation. Ruin is when man-made has become part of nature. As one enters the park the one inch thick steel walls are on the ground level, but while proceeding further the ground is descending, while the walls keep levelled and thus become 5 metes high. The wall system is framing a set of old oak trees and a series of outdoor and indoor spaces, smaller temples and courtyards with the final focus on the river down in the valley. River, where you may fish your ayu-fish, grill it and eat it up in Potemkin and go home.

The steel temple Potemkin is spiritually connected to the old Shinto temple on the other side of the rice fields. The post industrial meditation park is blessed by the Shinto priest and the 120 Kuramata villagers are continuing now their 400-year old tradition of every night circular dance in Potemkin. A community ritual memorizing a heroic act from the feudal times. All the village can sit on the small oak bench auditorium of the park.

The rice farming village of Kuramata is dying. The younger generations have moved to Nijgata, Tokyo and other cities and the traditions of hundreds of years are about to disappear very rapidly; traditions that are based on a harmonious co-existence between the man and nature – human nature as part of nature. Potemkin celebrates Local Knowledge and by providing an industrial ruin it is providing hope. Urban visitors are often sleeping in Potemkin and they are writing to me that they slept good.


  • Project name: Potemkin – Post Industrial Meditation Park
  • Location: Kuramata, Echigo-Tsumari, Japan
  • Program: Artistically articulated collage of recycled urban and industrial waste
  • Area: Dimensions: 130m long, 5–15m wide, 5m high
  • Year: Completion: July 2003
  • More details: Materials: Kawasaki steel (one inch thick), recycled concrete, recycled asphalt, recycled glass, recycled pottery, river bed stones, white gravel, oak
  • Client: Echigo-Tsumari Contemporaty Art Triennial 2003, curator Sakura Iso
  • Project by: Marco Casagrande + Sami Rintala
  • Team: Project team: Marco Casagrande, Sami Rintala, Edmundo Colon, Chris Constantin, Philippe Gelard, Leslie Cofresi, Marty Ross, Janne Saario, Jan-Arild Sannes, George Lovett, Dean Carman, Joakim Skajaa, Sonny Madonaldo
  • Text: Courtesy of Marco Casagrande
  • Images: Courtesy of Marco Casagrande

Urban Play Garden, San Francisco


Terraces and folding planes create a graphic urban garden when viewed from above, but at the garden level the focus is on adventurous play, to draw the young children outdoors. On steep, previously unused, land, they play chase, roll, slide, climb a rope, dig, plant, and invent games. The sustainability-conscious garden connects to the minimalist modern architecture while promoting the children’s social and mental well-being through a web of relationship with the land.


The clients’ three-story minimalist modern house in the Buena Vista Park neighborhood of San Francisco has extensive views of the city from the roof deck but little land. When we started the project, in 2004, the rear space was a very small-feeling, steeply sloped, irregularly angled, wedge-shaped patch of weeds, 25fee at the widest point by 44feet long. Because it borders a city-owned, street-side retaining wall, any terracing would require its own pier supports on the south side, and tall screening would be required on the north side, where the space was overlooked by neighboring houses. Despite the obstacles to developing this space, the clients were determined to explore the chances to make an outdoor play space for their very young twin girls, so they wouldn’t have to always drive to a playground or otherwise have the children play indoors. The clients also wanted the play space to be interesting to view from above.

Our design strategy was inspired by the work of Tadao Ando, his beautifully clean, smooth, concrete walls and efficient use of space. We designed snap-tie concrete walls, colored to match the smooth stucco of the house, to retain the terraces and planting beds, visually extending the architecture into the garden. Italian granite, the flooring indoors, is continued outdoors in the steps that float down the slope, and in the seat of a bench that cantilevers from a concrete wall.

We organized the space into four zones: a flat upper terrace, a steep slope, a flat lower terrace, and below it, down a few steps, a service area with a shed. Before we began the terracing, we built a new wall, 18 inches in from the city wall, along the entire 44 foot length of the southern edge of the garden to meet city building requirements. The granite steps across the terraces and descending the slope form a strong axis when viewed from above.

Three of the zones are designed for the children’s play. The topography allows the children and their friends to climb up a grass hill (using a rope) and race, roll, or slide down (on the concrete slide), the kind of thrilling adventurous play—the clients call the garden “a safe place for the children to feel bold”—considered essential for children’s connection to landscape. Also important, according to research are the garden’s separation from the adult areas of the house, which gives the children a sense of their own place, and the availability of natural materials—sand, water (from the sculptural stone water bowl), twigs, leaves, and flowers—to build with and support imaginative play. The bench that allows adults to enjoy or supervise the children’s play is at the top of the garden, next to the house, at the greatest distance from their world. The flat areas are used for ball games and to pitch a tent. The children participate in the landscape, digging and planting, and choosing herbs, bulbs, and flowers to grow for tea parties and bouquets.

The play garden is made private by towering step-up double scrims of Pittosporum, two varieties (one variegated, one green), one behind the other. Above them wave the ‘borrowed” fronds of a neighbor’s date palm. Beneath them, other plantings spill over the retaining walls, in a carefully chosen, restricted palette of purple, white and yellow. The plantings are drought tolerant and irrigated, only as necessary, by drip irrigation.

The clients’ main consideration was to have a space where their children could play freely outdoors, which we view as an important human right and an aspect of social sustainability. We were conscious also of environmental sustainability: the rubber paving at the base of the slide and the metal gate and railings at the entrance to the service area were all made of recycled material. The grading design balanced cut and fill. We collected the water from the entire play garden and directed it to a bioretention drain in the dog area.

The clients asked us also to design the plantings at the house entrance and on the roof deck. At the entrance, under an existing maple tree, we created a minimalist green pad of mattress vine(Muehlenbeckia complexa). The sunny roof deck, with panoramic views of San Francisco, has container plantings of roses and dwarf olives.

From the roof deck, and the decks off the bedrooms and living room, the play garden far below reads as a pleasingly simple graphic that integrates with the architecture. At night, its lines are lit with soft channel lighting.


Landscape Architect
Blasen Landscape Architecture
Eric Blasen, ASLA, Principal
Silvina Blasen, Gary Rasmussen

Tim Gemmill, Gemmill Design

Frank & Grossman

Interior Design
Mark Cunningham

General Contractor
Creative Spaces

Landscape Infrastructure

spain- and italy-based practice nabito architects has shared with us images of ‘landscape infrastructure’, a multi-level mixed-use building in anagni, italy. situated on the boundary between the city and the localcountryside, the design inserts itself into the landscape to secure views of the valle del sacco while serving as a functional and spatial mediator between the two diverging characters of the site.

read as an overlapping composition of four pentagonal volumes, the design opens up to the south side of the sloping plot with the back of the building retaining the soil of the plot. multiple terraced roofs and gardens extend out of the topography to dissolve the distinction between architecture and land. an open plaza space connects the buildings together with a fluid circulation while providing a public platform for meeting and interaction. conceived with a focus on sustainable design, the project utilizes solar orientation for natural daylighting and cross ventilation, with local stones and travertine for flooring.