Qiaoyuan Park, Tianjin 2015: every day, thousands of users enjoy themselves in the natural oasis of the city. Thanks for the strong defense of ordinary users and designers, the natural and rustic charm of the unique design has been protected and renewed after the restoration of the park.
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December 20, 2013
I was deeply touched by a letter from Baoqi Ding in Tianjin Ansett Hospital:
"Dear Dean Yu: I happened to notice construction underway in Tianjin Qiaoyuan Park this morning. The builders told me they were going to transform part of the wetlands into squares. We really like your unique design for Qiaoyuan Park. Did they have your permission for the renovation? I am writing in the hope that your influence can prevent the willful violation to your design.Yours Sincerely!"
It is a very brief letter, at most 90 Chinese characters if one counts punctuation. But it is the most memorable and impressive "post-occupancy evaluation" that I have ever received throughout my career as a designer. It also defines, and tactfully questions, the rights and dignity of a designer. And by the time it was written, five full years had passed since Tianjin Qiaoyuan Park was built!
After reading his letter, I picked up the phone to call the worthy "user" for details. It turned out that the local park and recreation authorities planned to eradicate reeds and fill the wetlands in Qiaoyuan Park to build a square with fitness equipment and a profit-making children's amusement park instead. The reason given was that there were "too many reeds to provide a view; the fire risks of high grass; security risks; lack of community venues" etc. On the phone the old man also told me that what daily visitors like him enjoyed most was the "messy" native landscape of reeds and thatch. Moreover, he claimed that there was no need to provide more commercial entertainment facilities as there are many in the community a road away from the park.
I immediately left a message on the government website of Hedong District, Tianjin City and called the leader of Tianjin Planning Bureau to forward Mr. Ding's suggestion on halting the reconstruction. However, the park regulators think little of it, saying "the general public regard the park...