• Landscape Architecture: Designing Asia’s Future Spaces

    27 September 2022

    Landscape architecture is about creating experiential places, from framing a single element to providing harmony and character to an entire township. This month, we explore Hong Kong and China landscape team’s achievements for Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, whose latest works were recognised at the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) Asia-Pacific Awards. PRC Magazine looks at two IFLA Award winners showcasing the work of Atkins Landscape in Asia.


    The first design in the spotlight is an Integrated Golf Resort Master Plan in the Philippines, which won an award in Analysis and Master Planning for its skilful preservation of the site’s habitats and natural water systems. The second is the Qingdao International Airport – an example of beautifully integrated landscape and infrastructure.


    Can a golf course boost conservation? In the last two decades, golf courses have been subjected to criticism from the environmental sector. With this project, Atkins strove to prove that a golf course has the potential to become a safe haven for wildlife by setting up islands of biodiversity interlinked with the regional context. 

    In 2018, Atkins was invited to join a 722ha master planning competition for a new resort destination near Clark, Philippines. The priority was a landscape-driven approach utilising and protecting the site’s abundant natural opportunities. Atkins rose to the challenge of designing a responsible golf course development, creating a new benchmark in the resort destination category.

    Approximately 100km north of Manila, Hann Lux Lifestyle resort is located along the extended foothills of Mount Pinatubo. The site accommodates a unique volcanic landscape known for its rich ecology. Guided by a desire to accommodate the land’s inherent history and processes, Atkins’ team developed an integrated resort with 54 holes, three five-star branded resorts, outdoor leisure activities, public amenities, and an efficient circulation system. 

    The design team carefully allocated 450ha within the mountainous landscapes. A sensitive landscape planning methodology outlined project boundaries and conceptualised the Master Plan through terrain assessments, topographical and hydrological studies, GIS data mapping, VR studies and 3D printing to capture the terrain morphology.

    Christian Dierckxsens, Senior Associate Director of Atkins Landscape in Asia Pacific, said: “the success of Hann Lux relies on the commitment and persistence to hold up the strong ecological value and framework that the site provides. As a model for sustainability and eco-tourism, the development is thereby tethered to the local ecosystem and linked into regional awareness and strong environmental stewardship.”

    Existing valley streams and their vegetation were identified as the project’s blue and green systems. Labelled “eco-corridors”, they form the framework around which systems, hotel plots and recreational uses were developed. Fairway lengths were limited while native landscape areas were preserved as “no-go” areas. These were linked along the 54 holes to promote movement of endemic species. The integrated setback areas ensure habitat conservation and water quality. Edges between nature and golf course are blurred as landscape elements become integral to the game experience. Finally, hiking and cycling trails were weaved in between, taking advantage of the interconnected green and blue systems.

    The Hann Lux Lifestyle Resort Master Plan also won the Honour Award of Landscape Analysis and Study in the Professional Category at the Malaysia Landscape Architecture Awards 2019.


    Qingdao Airport’s “starfish” terminal found itself a natural companion when Atkins incorporated “sea waves” into its landscape design project. The airport was completed in mid-2020 and began operation in 2021. Last year, Atkins’ China Landscape team received the IFLA Excellence Award for its use of “sea waves” land art to echo the airport’s starfish-shaped terminal building.

    Qingdao Airport is spread across 30 square kilometres – twice the size of London Heathrow. Set to become a major transportation hub in north-east Asia, it strengthens Qingdao’s position as a gateway to Japan and South Korea. 

    The IFLA award recognised Atkins’ work in elevating the role of landscape architects in the design of such a large-scale infrastructure project. It commended the team for not only reflecting local culture in form, but also integrating with ecology and transportation. Also inspired by Qi culture, the airport’s design language applies the word “Qi” in bone carving characters to create a micro-terrain emulating waves. 

    Three elements were lauded in the winning design: 

    Traffic-oriented: A new arrival experience for visitors from the air – through land art – and on the ground. Coming in fast, you’d enter the “starfish” area, slowing down as you pass the “wave” landscape of terrain and trees, and finally stop at the central garden.

    Infrastructure-oriented: The airport’s underground infrastructure with its undulating topography was utilised to mask ground facilities.

    Ecology-oriented: Existing low-lying terrain was incorporated to arrange green rainwater facilities, effectively reducing the risk of waterlogging with a “sponge” design.

    “This forward-looking airport landscape is an example of the perfect integration of landscape and infrastructure,” says Yuan Xia, Associate Director of Atkins China Property Asia, Engineering Services. “The team has worked on this project for eight years since the international bidding launched in June 2013. We managed to put a multidisciplinary team from seven different fields together, winning the competition and a downstream contract.”

    “Considering the existing topography and local culture, the design creates a rare sponge airport,” says Yuan Xia. “It also provides visitors with a new arrival experience and more multifunctional green space. Congratulations to the team and thank you for their tremendous effort on this project. It is our honour to receive such recognition.”

    The prestigious IFLA Asia-Pacific Awards aims to create stronger awareness and recognition of landscape architecture and its essential role in shaping our cities and environments towards a better, more resilient future. 


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