Test by Liang Sufang Photographs by Chen Jian
In 2010, artist Liu Zheng signed a 50-year lease for 1,000square meters of land in Songzhuang Village, TongzhouDistrict of suburban Beijing. Hoping to transform the landinto an art zone, Songzhuang Village had been renting spaceto artists for years.
Formerly employed by a foreign trade company and China’sembassies in Africa, Liu ended his 14-year career in 2003 to turnto drawing, which he has been passionate about since childhood.“If I didn’t start doing what I like, my life would just get wastedaway,” he explains.
Liu Zheng decided to build a garden on the land. He likes water, so he chose to place it at the center of his garden. “Water runs down hill,” Liu remarks. “Rather than building a fountain to forcethe water upwards unnaturally, I wanted the water to flow naturallythrough my garden.” This philosophy led to the idea of a Z-shapedpond, the highlight of Liu’s garden. Around the pond, a livingroom, a gym, a teahouse, a painting studio, and garden landscapesare laid out according to Liu’s design.
“If you want architecture full of vitality, you should build itaccording to the logistics of life,” Liu explains. “The frame of a building is like bones in a body. And lawn and trees are like skin,hair and flesh. Water is just like the blood. The sewage system evenmirrors the body’s entrails. Only when every organ is working wellcan life be vigorous. So goes the garden.”
Liu prefers leaves over flowers. He planted 20 lilacs, twowalnut trees, two persimmons, two hawthorns and one Chineseash in the garden. He chose the location of the trees very carefully,considering the angle from which they would be seen from thehouse and the shadows after they grew. Liu took everything intoconsideration when planning.
Liu admires Oriental gardens, especially the Japanese variety.“Japanese gardens have correct artistic orientation so residentscan live in harmony with the environment,” he notes. Although Liu also raves about classical gardens in Suzhou, he finds that the gardens have become scenic spots with a meager connection to the people, which he feels is a pity.