In the face of the rapid urbanization and the quick change of urban environment happen to Taiwan, BMT group launched an Eco-Housing project The Urban Mountain with an aim to restore the natural landscape in an urban built environment. The starting point of this project is to plant trees on every balcony to vertically form a green skin to three high-rise apartments. This approach not only shields heat from outside but also forms a wildlife corridor via tree canopies. The overall landscape thereupon is intended to bridge the gap between human’s living space and natural scene. The landscape designers started with field-study trips within Hsinchu County, obtaining relevant knowledge about flora and fauna. It helps designers find way to create a natural rural landscape in an urban built environment with an ethos native to the said areas.
The field trips within Hsinchu County cover seashores, plains, and mountain foothills, which characterizes the natural landscape of Taiwan, indicating the geographical and ecological diversity of this island. The landscape of The Urban Mountain III conveys this message. For instance, in addition to the function of regulating microclimate, a large amount of water landscape creates the miniature of wild brook, lake, and wetland. They provide habitats for different freshwater creatures, e.g. freshwater fishes, shrimps, craps, and frogs which have already disappeared in the urban environment. As a result, these restored wild creatures, as such, play an important role of an eco-system service—their existence in a built urban setting guarantees a healthy and pollution-free environment for humans.
The choice of plants is crucial to this eco-housing project. In addition to a variety of native plants species which are thought to be more adaptive to the local climate, The Urban Mountain III selects many edible plants with ethno-botanical values. It paves the way for the future urban foraging happened here. Residents are able to collect fruits, herbs, and flowers within their home landscape and, by doing such, retrieve the long-forgotten wisdom of identifying and feeding on native plants. The landscape is bordered by many edible trees. This is reckoned as a simple but friendly gesture to inviting passengers on the sidewalk to taste on seasonal fruits. The centre of the landscape is a dining hall, equipped with a wood-fired masonry oven, a permaculture farm, and circulating trails to suggest an urban/rural lifestyle.
The Urban Mountain III retrieves the scenery beauty of rural landscape back in the city to the effect that it gives new expressions for modern Chinese garden. An open-air stage stands by the side of the water landscape, ready for up-and-coming festive events. Audience members, gathering and sitting in the dining hall, are entertained by food and drama. This modern literati garden, typical of subtropical weather type, appears to transplanting the scene of Taiwanese mountain foothills in a built environment. It transcends the beauty of Taiwanese landscape, showing and believing a modern approach to reconsider a new landscape horizon arising on this island.