The Empty Land | Jinzhou

The empty land

Fierljep (far-leaping) Polder and Information Centre  |  Jinzhou  |  China

The city of Jinzhou is located 430 km north of Beijing in the province of Liaoning and lies 20 km from the coast. The Jinzhou Longqiwan New Area is an urban development on the coast of the Bonsai Sea. The development includes a park, for which KettingHuls and Bureau B+B built a fierljep polder and an information centre. The polder garden was opened during the Jinzhou World Land¬scape Art Exposition in 2013.

A 3-m-high dike surrounds the polder and protects the meadows and the ditch system. The polder is vacant, devoid of views and is therefore in contrast to the surrounding park. But before you know it, the polder turns into a playground. Visitors – fathers, mothers and children – use poles to leap across the ditches, from one field to another. Euphorically projecting themselves onto inaccessible land, the visitors use poles to transport themselves through the polder in accordance with the more than 1,000 year old tradition of fierljeppen. This spectacle can be seen from the dike: an empty polder transformed into a playground with leaping and laughing people.

Visitors enter the polder through the information centre. Inside the centre, visitors swap their shoes for red wellies; an instructive film explains how to leap across a ditch. The concrete space, with its alcoves and peepholes, is located inside the dike and reminiscent of a fortification. With its green-pigmented concrete and the caverns that provide the space with natural lighting, the centre offers visitors an adventure even before they enter the garden.

Flower-filled meadows lie between the ditches of the playground. They differ in colour due to the varied mainte¬nance plan, visitor dynamics, and subtle differences in soil conditions and dampness. The result is a realm of meadow-islands with plants that can be walked on, water and waterside plants, clover and flowers in the grass, all of them changing with the seasons. Picking flowers and lying in the grass is permitted. With a garland of hand-picked flowers and drops of water on your cheeks, you say goodbye to the polder.

Project Fierljep (far-leaping) Polder and Information Centre, Jinzhou, China
Client Jinzhou World Landscape Art Exposition
Design practice KettingHuls and Bureau B+B Urbanism and Landscape Architecture
Architect Daniëlle Huls (director B+B 2009-2012)
Period 2011-2013
Status Completed
Team Martijn Bakker, Daniëlle Huls, Jan Maas, Ricky Rijkenberg
Programme Garden (dike and water system) 3,200 m2 and an information centre 350 m2 (gross floor area)
Building costs € 915,000
Photography Ben McMillan