Location: Lang Zhong, China
Development Area: 1,400 ha
Design Style: Environmental

Lang Zhong, home to the Ba ethnic minority, is steeped in history and culture and represents one of China’s pre-eminent cultural historic sites. The old city of Lang Zhong rests along the middle reaches of the beautiful Jialing River surrounded by the lush forested mountains and valleys of the Ta-pa in the Sichuan Province. The area is currently a major tourist attraction that is well known throughout China, yet it can only support tourism for one day only, missing out on opportunities to fully experience the area. The international market for tourists is yet to recognise Lang Zhong, and the short stay nature of the visits does not encourage development of this market. The government of Lang Zhong is interested in expanding the tourism base of the old town and the surrounding attractions, subsequently attracting additional tourists both local and international for longer stays creating a major economic boost for the region.

The government has designated specific areas with special attributes for tourism development, and one such area is the scenic Guo Xi River Valley which flows through the National Park in the Ta-pa mountains. The special attribute for this area is the river, wetlands and the banks of the river creating a wetland park with facilities for tourism. SCI was commissioned to research the potential of the designate Wetland Park, create the vision and prepare the master plan establishing the framework for future development. The master plan ultimately proposed four distinct zones, the Park Operational Zone, Compatible Development zone, Conversation Zone and Preservation Zone.

The Operation Zone included the Experience Centre, Conference Centre, transportation Hub and the Mao Gao Cultural Village, at the gateway to the park providing awareness education to the users. The Compatible Zone included uses that were more orientated to participation by visitors, and providing an economic base to the park, with a retirement village and long term care facility, an international school, home stay resort, display gardens and a living museum. The conservation Zone encourages interaction between the visitors and the natural environment along with the cultural and historical elements, with Eco-flower Farms, Ecological and Flora Research Station, and outdoor Cinematography Studio and an Outward Bound School and Survival Centre. The final Zone, in the upper reaches of the river focused on the preservation of the ecosystem, the forests and the wetlands, and included an Eco Resort.

The primary theme that runs through the whole planning process is sustainability, not only environmental, but economic and social, providing for the preservation of the area, improved economic development for the existing communities, and ultimately a better social fabric, providing opportunities for future children to remain in their ancestral home.

SCI was commissioned by a group of concerned local business men and government advisors to assist the local government in developing a strategy for this area to protect and enhance the area’s natural beauty and resources from unplanned development and environmental damage.