kuth ranieri + TLS transform dilapidated roller coaster into steel mesh aviary in china

kuth ranieri + TLS transform dilapidated roller coaster into steel mesh aviary in china

tom leader studio landscape architecture (TLS) and kuth ranieri architects’ winning proposal for a new 74-hectare urban park at the foot of lion mountain in suzhou, china, sees a decommissioned rollercoaster is being transformed into an aviary. part of a larger project to turn a dilapidated amusement park into a new urban park—shishan park—for a rapidly growing high-tech district, the project includes the aviary, as well as other buildings, such as tea houses, picnic enclosures, a sports pavilion, public restrooms, and foot bridges.kuth ranieri + TLS transform dilapidated roller coaster into steel mesh aviary in chinaall images courtesy of kuth ranieri architects



the winner of an international design competition held by the municipality to replace the amusement park with a new urban recreating destination celebrating the flora and fauna of china, tom leader studio landscape architecture brought in kuth ranieri architects to design the aviary as well as several pavilions for the new park. the proposal adaptively reuses the roller coaster structure, enclosing it with a new mesh that attaches to and and surrounds the existing infrastructure, echoing the outline of lion mountain in the distance. three screened vestibules provide secure access points of entry to prevent the escape of the curated wildlife collection. the vestibules link to a 10-story circulation tower enclosed in painted steel mesh, while the elevator is wrapped by a generous staircase, with landings big enough to accommodate programmed events.

kuth ranieri + TLS transform dilapidated roller coaster into steel mesh aviary in china



kuth ranieri architects has designed the main circulation as an ‘infinity loop’ of elevated pathways with viewing platforms that meander from the park at ground level upward through the existing structure to the top level, allowing visitors close access to the birds and providing destinations for respite along the way. the 160,000-square-foot aviary will house around 20 species of indigenous birds. a new green-roofed animal care facility nestles into the landside edge of the aviary and includes animal care rooms, food and refrigeration, offices, and holding enclosures.

kuth ranieri + TLS transform dilapidated roller coaster into steel mesh aviary in china



the park’s new promenade rings the historic mountain and adjacent lakes, passing through distinct districts within the overall park. along the promenade, kuth ranieri designed various pavilions, including tea houses, picnic enclosures, a sports pavilion, public restrooms, and foot bridges. the programs vary, but the natural material pallet of stone, steel, and wood is consistent. the structures are as open as possible, framing views and allowing pedestrians to pass through as they explore the park. a dramatic suspension bridge passing through a mist cloud connects a small mountain to lion mountain, providing access to an existing mountain temple. the three bridges across the site’s wetland each have their own character and function: one carries bicycles and self-driving vehicles, one is for pedestrians and is equipped with a view platform, and the third is landscaped.




project info:


name: shishan lion mountain park—rollercoaster aviary

architect: kuth ranieri architects with TLS landscape architecture

team kuth ranieri architects: byron kuth, elizabeth ranieri, ethen wood, leif estrada, carlos esquivel

team TLS landscape architecture: tom leader, wei chen, xin zhong, fan wei

location: suzhou, china

client: suzhou city planning department gaoxin district branch

gross sq footage: 160,000 sf

site area: 74 hectare urban park

consultants (structural) endrestudio: paul endres, dave campbell

materials: stainless steel mesh netting (overall aviary, circulation tower, animal care), wood decking, jakob net rail, powder-coated steel (infinity walk/platforms), concrete, glazing (circulation tower, entry vestibules)

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