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By Yihui Wang

Yihui Wang is in the final year of the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania. Following a Bachelor of Landscape in China. She enjoys traveling, photography and sports. She has worked in the United States, France and China.

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This project emerged from the Burning Gardens Event studio I took last semester. The design is inspired by Burning Man, an event focused on community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance, which is held annually in the western United States.


Burning Gardens aims to develop intelligent concepts, imaginative and creative design for radical design expressions, ecological landscapes, resilient spaces, and innovative materials based on a few straightforward principles.


Students were asked to design a garden with a masterplan to hold this event regularly on an American agricultural grid. They were then invited to design one of the temporary gardens based on their larger theme. I focused on Monarch Migration; reconstructing the woodland to provide a habitat to assist the migration of monarch butterflies.

Above: Conflict between Monarch migration and cropland expansion across the United States.
Left: The existing site conditions, showing woodland area, open space and topography.

The studio brief asked us to design within an American Farmland grid. The grid I chose in Kansas is a degraded wood land with several enclosed open spaces that can be transformed through different programs. I reconstructed the woodland to create the Monarch habitat as well as event sites. In the master plan, the large green area are the habitats, and small black polygons are spaces where the invited garden designer will design their temporary garden.

Above: The typical section shows the main pedestrian trail connecting to the individual gardens.
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In the second part of my design, as an “invited garden designer,” I wanted to praise the beauty of the life of butterfly as well as this great migration. My garden consists of four parts, they represent the four life stages of butterfly: Emerging, Exploring, Accumulation, and Celebration.

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Emerging is where life begins. The first generation of monarchs, born in southern Canada, are looking forward to breaking out of their shells in the cold winds of the Great Lakes to start the great migration.

Exploring is a metaphor for the difficulties on the migration corridors. In the migration path from north to south, monarchs need to cross a whole great plain, which is a long journey full of discovery and adventure.

Accumulation is a metaphor for pupa. After a long flight across the United States, monarchs finally arrived in the warmth of Mexico, where they can escape the harsh northern winter, like pupa will be parked among the branches of the trees to build up strength, quietly waiting for the next flight.

Above: Master plan of the garden event. The left image shows the plan with the canopy, the right image shows the floor plan without the canopy.
Below: The concept of the garden design: 4 stages of butterfly’s life circle

Celebration is a metaphor for becoming a butterfly. When spring blossoms in March, the monarchs that have been waiting for the whole winter reawaken, and thousands of them dance in the fir forest, weaving an ode to this great migration.









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