The designers of the newly constructed Magma Flow public space in Ningbo, China used a mighty volcano as their muse to create “an eventful and eye-catching” pedestrian walkway.
Shanghai based-firm 100 Architects were charged by the local government with “activat[ing] this pedestrian junction” in a brand new commercial and residential area of the port city. For maximum head-turning value, they decided to turn the entire park into a metaphorical volcanic eruption filled with bright, attention-grabbing reds, oranges, and yellows.
The 14,000-square-foot park uses small stairways to signal the beginnings of a figurative outpouring from the Earth’s crust. Tiered, overlapping shade structures throughout symbolize the infectious lava of fun venting upwards and spilling back down through a slide and over the wide steps.
The magma continues its inviting flow around a picnic table and stools. A ramp from an adjacent building is painted brilliant orange, pouring the excitement down towards a large playground. Visitors can follow fire-colored paths around the park and tackle climbing shapes, small hills, and a giant tic-tac-toe table along the way. A swing pergola, seesaws, more slides, punching bags, and tunnel tubes all beckon to passersby. LED rope lights trim the shade and play structures, and spotlights on the trees provide an enticing ambiance at night.
For less agile pedestrians, 100 Architects also included several seating and resting areas with sun-blocking canopies. A mahjong table and adult sized-swings complete the experience.
“The flow of magma creates an intense and vivid circuit of events and spaces arising by its side,” the designers explain. “Altogether the proposal creates an incandescent public space that acts as an urban attractor and entertainment hotspot.”
According to the company website, “100 Architects was born with the mission of improving our cities and the experience of citizens in the public realm.” They are known for their colorful and playful temporary street installations throughout China, and for their quirky landscape architecture in places like Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Santiago. Energetic colors and an abundance of geometric shapes are hallmarks of their designs. The Magma Flow project fits nicely into the firm’s overall niche, so-called “neighborhood interventions.”
The company adds “the main objective of this typology is to trigger a massive public interest to the place through a strong visual impact, usually of a permanent nature, encouraging the rise of high public affluence and establishing an urban landmark that can cultivate important human dynamics and boost commercial activity.”
Ningbo is the second most populous city in Zhejiang Province, China, and 100 Architects hopes that the Magma Flow project will be “of such magnitude and notoriety” that it’ll “impact not only the immediate surrounding urban environment, but rather the urban dynamics of a whole neighborhood, becoming an urban landmark and a local attractor of social interactions in a given neighborhood.”
While a real-life volcano might be more likely to inspire fear than fun, it’s hard not to get swept up in Magma Flow’s colorful currents.