Shenzhen is known as the City of the P’eng Bird, a large, sacred, mythical bird whose home is said to be on Danaoke Mountain. The mythological spirit of P’eng is embedded into Shenzhen’s local culture, representing far-reaching aspirations, vitality, power, and uncompromising will. The Danaoke Mountain Ecological Park draws on the strengths of Shenzhen itself to develop a unique, place-based solution to improve health and wellbeing for this dense, degraded urban landscape through a process that can be a model for megacities in other regions. Linking Shenzhen’s ancient story with a modern restoration of the city’s most important landscape, the Eco Park can serve as a ‘nest’ in which Shenzhen can look back as a way to look ahead.
Between the twin cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong lies the Deep Bay region, an important node on the East Asian–Australasian Flyway. Located at the center of Shenzhen stands Danaoke Mountain, this critical and ecologically rich landscape has changed dramatically during 50 years of unprecedented urban growth; which has ravaged the region’s natural resources and disrupted ecosystem function.
The Danaoke Mountain Ecological Park plan seeks to transform the 500 hectares of degraded landscapes into an environmental sanctuary, for both Shenzhen’s people and wildlife, by building on the fundamentals of place. The plan weaves together the P’eng bird’s resilient spirit with the regenerative power of healthy, native ecologies. The goal is to craft a balance between the reestablishment of native habitats and the creation of an accessible, much-needed, biophilic experience for the city’s community.