Learning from China - landscape
In China infrastructures define urban landscape. It is an occasion to change something apparently useless in a valuable component of the city.


China is a developing country and for what world knows it's not specially famous to be particularly attentive to details or its own environment. This doesn't correspond exactly to today Chinese reality though and this turns to be pretty evident already once even an occasional visitor landing in Beijing goes along the way that takes him from the airport to the city centre. What he can see around the huge infrastructure system, around the highway accesses, under the overpasses, along the fast train railways is just an amazing unexpected attention for every single detail composing a simply beautiful landscape. Hundreds of different materials creating borders and slops, concrete, metal, stone, water, trees, flowers, bushes, grass, everything perfectly and harmoniously combined to create, through nature, artificial beautiful landscapes.
Always speaking from the occasional visitor’s point of view, he easily could point out that taking particular care of the most important road that gives access to a capital city is or could be a common habit all over the world and it could be just a way to save the appearance. That wouldn't be absolutely true if we actually hadn't observed that all over China the most parts of the connecting spaces and especially along all the infrastructures either in urban or rural context as well, are treated at the same way of the big important public alleys. From our experience in fact, we personally have the chance to observe daily how landscape, especially around infrastructure, are generally well designed and in such a capillary way that seams a very spontaneous habit that apparently doesn't take many efforts to be accomplished.
It is a fact by the way that this kind of operations anyhow gives new values to cities and their territory.
As Italian observers, this image of beauty and order is not exactly what happens to remind when we compare our Italian experience with this new Chinese one. It will be already enough to recall the desolating scenery that accompany us all the way long from the airport Milano Malpensa to the city center. Here in fact, where our attention is not caught by the desolating post industrial disorder of the anonymous mills around, or by the obsolete and old finishes of the airport itself, we can just focus on the ugliness, negligence, and indifference which connective spaces and decorating elements along the infrastructures are treated with.
Always as Italian observers then, it's spontaneous to remind with a kind of nostalgic feelings, the good old times when in our country also the doors of the city were used to be triumphal arcs, when the central stations were built as monuments and able to affect important parts of the cities, creating avenues and promenades, trying to be remembered for the rest of the future. A time where simple water ducts were able to add new layers to the natural environment around and create for them new values.
Italian cities are famous to the world, meant to be beautiful and we are surely proud of this, but it's also a regret for us, as Italian architects living in China, cause we know that this common image only refers to our glorious past and to what the luck allowed to be still on all through the time.
Trying to learn from the differences, in our blog we will try to understand, or at least to describe, always through our architectural filter and throughout our personal and professional experience in China, how and why in our own countries we assist to a loose of value and skills in treating landscape topics, this despite of the increase of the number of landscape design universities or city landscape commissions and dipole of the more diffuse sensibility of the public opinion.