KCAP, in collaboration with Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl, designed an ecological masterplan for Jinan's Southern Mountain area in norther China. Its purpose is to restore and protect the mountainous geological structure and ecology of the region. Protection is vital because the Southern Mountains are the source of the famous Jinan springs. Also, they contain several drinking water reservoirs and functions as the green sanctuary of the city.  As a strategy to restore and protect water resources, the masterplan provides ecologically orientated development of cities, mobility, agriculture, economy and tourism in the area. The plan has been approved by the municipality of Jinan.

The Southern Mountains in Shandong is a mountain area of 600 km2. North lies Shandong’s capital Jinan. The historic centre of the city is known for over seventy natural artesian springs. South of the mountains lies the holy Thaisan mountain, as the first of the five holy mountains, where Chinese emperors through the ages took the 6293 stairs to the top to bring offers to their god at the start of their reign. In between mountain ranges, separated by three larger valleys, the landscape and water resources over the years became gradually more polluted by agriculture and urbanization. Also, the underground water systems became congested, which was a growing problem not just for water supply and environment in general, but especially for the city of Jinan. The city wants to be recognized as world heritage by UNESCO for their historic city centre and over seventy-two artesian springs. It was a necessity to restore and protect the water systems at the source.

The project has started with identifying ecological sensitive areas, elements and systems in order to layer them according to urgency, importance and threat. KCAP also calculated population and land capacity and locate potential areas where production and urban developments are allowed. The first step now is cleaning up the landscape of illegal, uncontrolled urban expansion and development in order to restore and protect the waterflows. As a result, in long term six designated urban core areas provide residential areas for relocated families and bring updates through building up a green economy. By dividing the Southern Mountains in ecological protecting zones, agricultural protecting zones and urban development zones, we can set-up suitable and tailored programs, principles and guidelines for the next 10 to 15 years. We create strong urban centres with social support programmes and a green economy to ultimately protect the landscape and provide its inhabitants with new means to build on their future.

The Southern Mountains will gradually develop into a unique ecological zone where people and nature are in balance and where the current threats to the environment are eliminated. The city of Jinan, the mountains and the holy imperial mountain in the south form a renewed triptych, translated to the 21th century not just by civil engineering but also by an integrated approach which focuses on social, economic, urban, environmental and, mobility solutions. The project is an example of how to restore ecological environment and water protection areas throughout China because of the integrated collaboration of all parties involved, at all stages in the project.

Redefining cultural landscapes is what KCAP does. As cities grow and spread across a territory, they cease to be a single entity with a clear center and periphery but become a complex relationship of parts, what we call a cultural landscape. It is where mixtures of agriculture, housing, logistics, infrastructure and extensive natural areas exist side by side. Our work aims to give legibility to its different parts and improve the distinctive qualities found on each site. We intensify natural assets to create more cohesive and ecologically productive green-blue infrastructure. We define counterpoints in typology, functions, grain and material to create new developments that are rooted in their place. Minimal environmental footprints and a close connection to landscape are fundamental.