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Bath architecture firm wins Best Show Garden at Chelsea Flower Show

A Bath-based landscape architecture practice has been awarded a gold medal and coveted Best Show Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show 2021.

Grant Associates, of Milk Street, received the accolade from the Royal Horticultural Society for its Chinese-inspired Guangzhou Garden, which was commissioned by the government of Guangzhou.

The garden was designed by the practice’s director Peter Chmiel and senior associate Chin-Jung Chen, and takes inspiration from the Chinese port city, north west of Hong Kong, on China’s Pearl River.

The ambitious design showcases numerous planting species and aquatic designs, including one of the largest volumes of water ever to feature in a Chelsea show garden in its 108-year history.

According to Grant Associates, the Chinese-inspired garden pays homage to Guangzhou’s philosophy which gives equal consideration to the needs of people and wildlife through sustainable city-planning strategies.

Guangzhou has a distinct environmental plan which divides it into three zones: social green space for people within the central business district (heart); protected green spaces to the north (lungs); and protected aquatic areas to the south (kidneys).

Like the city, the Guangzhou Garden is inspired by the same three zones, according to Grant Associates.

The design was originally set to be delivered in 2020 before the pandemic led to the cancellation of last year’s event, which usually takes place in May but was moved to the autumn for the first time in 2021.

Peter Chmiel, director at Grant Associates, said: “Our creative vision has been more than two years in the making, and being awarded Gold is a testament to the whole team that was responsible for making the Guangzhou Garden a reality.

“It was a huge challenge to effectively capture and convey the essence of vast and vibrant Guangzhou into a 20m x 10m, but we are thrilled with the finished result and how our aquatic displays and extensive, exotic wetland cleansing area have been received by the judges and attendees so far this year.

The Guangzhou Garden is made up of three zones: Heart, Lungs and Kidneys

“The Guangzhou Garden encourages us to all think about our future cities as landscape cities that enable people and nature to come closely together.”

The award-winning garden was designed by Grant Associates on behalf of China-based culture project consultancy Creativersal and its main sponsor, the Administration of Forestry and Gardening of Guangzhou Municipality.

It was created in collaboration with garden design consultancy The Outdoor Room, with the prominent bamboo structures developed in partnership with Xylotek, while the living walls were from Biotecture and the water features supplied by Bamber Wallis.

Chin-Jung Chen, senior associate at Grant Associates, added: “We have been very fortunate to collaborate with such a creative team for our first Chelsea show garden and it has been incredibly exciting to receive many positive comments about the garden’s serenity and beauty.

“We hope that the Guangzhou Garden provides inspiration and a sense of calm to Chelsea Flower Show visitors this week.”

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