In the shadow of a Tusi fortress

A landscape architect soaks up local legends at one of China’s newest World Heritage sites

There is nothing in the world quite like living at an archaeological station on top of a mountain in China. As a part of the VOA team currently engaged in the design for a new gateway destination of Hailongtun Tusi Fortress, I spent three days on Longyan Mountain and a week staying in nearby Baisha Village near Gaoping Town while working on site. Without certain comforts of home such as electricity, I relied heavily on the kindhearted nature of the locals during my stay. It’s been an incredible opportunity to better understand the history and unique character of the area.

The stone structures at Hailongtun castle in Guizhou province were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2015. The historic Hailongtun Tusi Fortress is the oldest and largest preserved Tusi city in China. VOA is providing short term and long term design plans for Hailongtun’s retail, dining and entertainment experience.

In working to develop the optimal guest circulation routes for those encountering the area’s most significant archaeological landmark, the Hailongtun Tusi Fortress, we wanted to experience first-hand the local legends and stories and let them drive the design process. During our stay, important logistics for trails, site furnishings, building uses, and signage were created, all with an eye to designing a sustainable and authentic experience. With all we accomplished, the cultural experience was more than a designer could hope for. Our photos offer a glimpse of the area’s incredible historic structures and beautiful landscapes, its talented residents and archaeologists, and some of the amazing fresh food we were privileged to taste during our stay. Many thanks to our new Hailongtun family.


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