LA BOUR of Shanghai businessman Ma Dadong’s mission to save 10,000 ancient trees and 50 historic houses from flooding led to a unique Chinese resort. Kath Hudson talks to the architects and designers behind Aman’s latest project
he story of Amanyangyun is heartwarming as it is a true labour of love. On a routine visit to his home village in Jiangxi province, Shanghai businessman Ma Dadong learned that up to 30 villages, dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties, and 10,000 ancient camphor trees were soon to be lost due to a reservoir being given the go-ahead. Horrified that so much heritage could be destroyed, Ma assembled a team of botanists, engineers and architects conversant with ancient Chinese architecture to relocate both houses and trees to a new home 20 miles from Shanghai. “These trees had been alive for almost 2,000 years, before the first Chinese emperor was born. It can blow your mind to think that these ancient trees and their long lives might disappear in a snap of the fingers,” says Ma. To avoid traffic, the trees were transported overnight on flatbed trucks to their new home. Nurtured like babies, about 80 per cent survived. With a diameter of over two metres, the largest tree was so big that a motorway toll booth had to be demolished for it to pass. The tree now forms the heart of the resort at the village green.
CLAD mag 2018 ISSUE 2