International design firm Sasaki has been selected to develop a master plan for the Chengdu Panda Capital. Chengdu is also the human capital of China’s Sichuan province, one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the country, and the only native habitat of the giant panda. The city government recognizes its responsibility as steward of this vulnerable species and, in June of last year, called for submissions to expand its panda research and tourism facilities. Sasaki beat out 98 other contenders with a plan that balances smart urbanism and thoughtful conservation. The masterplan is spread across three sites, each playing a different role in the panda conservation effort. Longquanshan Panda Village, located near the airport, will be focused on education. Visitors there will be introduced to the region’s history, culture, and dedication to conservation. Panda Park, in Beihu, is the closest to downtown Chengdu and reachable by mass transit. Here, panda tourists will learn more about the panda and its habitat at a new visitor center. The primary research center and gateway to the giant panda preserve is outside the city in Dujiangyan Panda Valley, where conservators breed and prepare pandas to enter the wild. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one of the greatest threats to the giant panda is the tourism and recreation areas, and large-scale infrastructure projects. Tourism, if not properly managed, is a particular concern for the expanded capital, which is anticipated to receive 20 million annual visitors— that’s about two million more people per year than Disneyland. This plan involves all those threats, and Sasaki is embracing the challenge. “How do you reconcile human land use and wildlife protection?” asked Sasaki principal Tao Zhang. “With this project, we’re aiming to set a new baseline for how cities can achieve a sustainable model that generates win-wins…through extensive educational and environmental stewardship programs and a fully-integrated design approach.” The new master plan will help ensure that the city will grow in a sustainable manner while reaffirming its brand as the panda capital of the world and securing a shared future for both of the area’s major species.
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Brought to you with support fromOpened to the public in December 2017, West-Line Studio’s Shui Cultural Center is an imposing complex located in a valley within China’s rugged Sandu Shui Autonomous County. The complex, consisting of three single-gabled halls and a monumental tower, is a formidable display of timber-pressed concrete covered in pitched copper plates.
perforated copper cladding panels. Each half-inch-thick panel, measuring four by two feet, was subjected to a multi-stepped anodizing process to overcome corrosion in the acid rain–drenched province and to boost iridescence. The perforations, numbering just under 50,000 in total, fulfill three functions. Structurally, gaps in the copper plate significantly reduce the dead load placed on cantilevered concrete trusses and the screen wall fastening system, composed of galvanized steel corners, sheets, and expansion-and-burst bolts. Aesthetically, the perforations create a patterned brise-soleil for the halls’ east and west elevations, filtering light through the narrow, rectangular glass panes that line the hall. Symbolically, the gaps are a nod to the Shui character for rain, which consists of tiered vertical bands. The interiors of the complex, marked by exposed concrete structural systems, are imprinted by the surrounding landscape through the use of pine panel-formed concrete. Sandu, relatively isolated from the country’s principal economic centers, is known for its dense Huashan pine and Chinese fir forests. The concrete detail effectively softens what could be considered an ominous space, transforming them into grey, oversized versions of the region’s traditional timber vernacular forms. The triple-glazed glass panels, produced 350 miles north in the megalopolis of Chongqing, largely insulate and guard the complex from the elements. However, West-Line Studio inserted two details that add color and symbolic depth to the cultural center. In the complex's ritual hall, glass panels are dyed to resemble typical batik tapestry patterns, blanketing the concrete walls and flooring with ever-changing color. Additionally, box-like concrete appendages marked with traditional Shui logographic characters protrude from this same hall. With a glance of sunlight, the characters are beamed downward, further tying the symbolic and material. Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the cladding panels as being made of bronze rather than copper.The Shui people, concentrated in the county and the larger Guizhou province, are a distinct ethnic minority with a unique language and logographic writing system. For West-Line Studio, the project was an ambitious attempt to translate local customs into a cohesive design for a cultural center campus nearing 150,000 square feet. Placed atop an expansive concrete podium, the halls are of varying size, height, and function. They are unified by relatively hidden wall openings and approximately 4,000
In recent years, the People’s Republic of China has pushed forward with large-scale and ambitious ideas, from the construction of an eco-city outside Beijing to the form-defying Harbin Opera House. Now, the southwestern city of Chengdu hopes to launch an illumination satellite functioning as an artificial moon by 2020. The purported goal of this interstellar adventure is to cast a dusk-like glow over the area below, significantly reducing nighttime energy use and, in turn, monthly electricity bills. The satellite would reflect sunlight onto Chengdu during the night. Reported by the People’s Daily, the man-made moon will work in tandem with the star’s nighttime illumination to further brighten the city below. Wu Chunfeng, chairman of the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd, believes that the galactic device could light an area of significant size, ranging from a diameter of 4 to 50 miles. Located significantly closer to the earth, Chunfeng estimates that it could provide eight times as much iridescence as the moon. The Guardian notes that similar initiatives reflecting sunlight at night have proved successful in both Russia and Norway, albeit at a much smaller scale and ambition. Funding, or full state approval, has not yet been secured for the project.
Architecture curator and former AN columnist Aric Chen has stepped down from his role as the lead curator for design and Architecture at M+ in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District and has taken on the title of curator-at-large at the museum. In addition to M+, Chen will be focusing on other curatorial projects as well as teaching, including guest curating the 2018 Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition at London’s Design Museum, from his new base in Shanghai. M+, first proposed in 2007 but currently without a permanent home, is focused mainly on the visual culture of Asia, in a global context, throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum’s collection includes a wide variety of pieces including paintings, architectural models, furniture, digital art, performance art, and more. Following an international design competition in 2013, Herzog & de Meuron were chosen to design M+’s permanent home in West Kowloon. The 700,000-square-foot waterfront museum will resemble a ceramic-and-glass-clad, upside down “T” once complete and will hold over 180,000 square feet of exhibition space, performance spaces, cafes, offices, three theaters, and a rooftop terrace. Construction has been fraught with delays, and there have been fears of cost overruns as the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority fired its main contractor earlier this month. While construction has been put on pause for six weeks as the authority searches for a replacement, the managing body has maintained that the museum will still open in 2020 as previously promised. Chen, who had served as M+’s lead curator since 2012, oversaw the formation of the museum’s design and architecture department and its acquisitions. He also led the establishment of the department’s programming and curatorial team. Chen also served as the first creative director for Beijing Design Week from 2010 to 2012. His online exhibition NEONSIGNS.HK, an interactive catalog of Hong Kong’s vibrant neon sign ecosystem, won Chen praise when it was released in 2013, and it won a Webby. Chen’s most recent book, Brazil Modern: The Rediscovery of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Furniture, is available now.
AMO’s tradition of experimentation with imagery, jokey self-referential installations, and the power of perception has arrived in China. From now through August 14, True Me will be on display at the 798 Art Factory in Beijing, presenting guests with distorted selfies, monochrome rooms, and anime-inspired installations. True Me was organized in conjunction with AMO, the Chinese selfie app (and data vacuum) Meitu, and the Beijing Contemporary Arts Foundation to celebrate Meitu’s new logo. The show simultaneously skewers and celebrates “selfie culture”: wavy mirror walls wrap the exhibitions and line the show’s circulation, warping the reflections of guests as they move through the Art Factory. According to AMO, this is to show patrons their heavily post-produced “outer self” that social media users project on image sharing apps. The “inner self” is represented too, with six installations meant to evoke visitors’ raw, softer internal life. These spaces are covered in felt, flannel, and grass, and contain photogenic backdrops that were highly influenced by pop culture. Ironically enough, each installation is highly Instagrammable and will likely feature in just as many “outer self” photographs. The spaces range from neon-pink cosmetic mockups, to a faux arcade wallpapered with anime characters in dynamic poses, to a giant backlit eye, to a long purple hall containing alternative versions of the Meitu logo. True Me was led by OMA Partner and Asia Director Chris van Duijn and is AMO’s first exhibition in China. It’s far from AMO’s parent firm OMA’s first project in the country, however. Most recently the firm won a competition to master plan and design an enormous “Unicorn Island” in Chengdu.
Long after the golden era of corporate modernist skyscrapers (think Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, SOM’s Lever House, and so on), many contemporary office skyscrapers are still designed with traditional glass curtain walls that have low insulation and cause overheating from unnecessary direct sunlight. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) conjured an otherworldly alternative for Shenzhen International Energy Mansion: a sawtooth, zigzagging curtain wall comprising glass panels and powder-coated aluminum that blocks direct sunlight, thereby reducing solar gain by up to 30 percent. The 1-million-square-foot structure is composed of two towers and a nine-story connecting block complete with a shared cafeteria, conference rooms, and various retail shops: The uppermost 13 floors of the 42-story north tower houses the Shenzhen Energy Mansion headquarters. As a starting point, BIG considered the subtropical climate in Shenzhen, gauging how they could create comfortable working spaces in hot and humid conditions while at the same time reducing energy consumption. The solution? A passive facade. “Our proposal for Shenzhen Energy Mansion enhances the sustainable performance of the building drastically by only focusing on its envelope, the facade,” said Andreas Klok Pedersen, partner and design director at BIG. Collaborating with Transsolar, the design studio dedicated to addressing climate change, the firm employed various solutions to reduce solar-derived heat and glare without relying on machines or heavy glass coating (which would make views out seem gray and bleak). The building has achieved two out of three stars with the Chinese Green Building Evaluation Label and a LEED Gold rating. BIG and Transsolar developed a multifaceted passive program with a facade folded in an origami-like shape consisting of closed and open subsections. The closed sections provide high insulation values by blocking direct sunlight. “With solid facade panels on the southeast and southwest side for shading, the glazed facade facing northwest and northeast is able to achieve high sustainability requirements with more clarity and less coating,” said Pedersen. All in all, the effect enhances the environmentally sustainable performance of the building and creates an office mise-en-scène bathed in soft light reflected from the direct sunlight diffused between interior panels. Meanwhile, the double glazing applied to the low-e tempered Super Energy-Saving Insulated Glass Units (IGU) by Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass on the folded facade provides open views through the clear glass in one direction via a series of simple deformations in the geometry that allows for larger openings. These interjecting pockets of glass create cavernous folds that interrupt the smooth facade in various interior areas, including lobbies, recreational areas, and meeting areas. This seemingly precarious arrangement of views is made possible by the aluminum cladding's comprising full-height extruded panels that form a meandering profile. The setup enables the panel system to interlock smoothly, creating a uniform surface with almost seamless joints. A profile of twists and turns accentuates the reflections of light. In effect, these solid facade panels located on the southeast and southwest sides directly obstruct solar penetration. “The amount of insulation used in the curtain wall is a result of optimization between visibility and sustainability,” said Pedersen. Location: Shenzhen, China Architect: Bjarke Ingels Group Consulting Architect: SADI Shenzhen Architecture and Design Institute Contractor: CSCEC Engineer: ARUP Facade Consultants: Front, Inc. and Aurecon Facade Contractor: Fangda Group Sustainability Consultant: Transsolar Glass Manufacturer, Supplier, Glazing: Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Group Co., Ltd Windows: Aumüller Exterior Cladding Panels: Xingfa Aluminum
Some might say adaptive reuse is for the birds—in which case, San Francisco–based Kuth Ranieri Architects might happen to agree. The office is currently working on an unexpected adaptive-reuse project in Suzhou, China—just outside Shanghai—with fellow Bay Area landscape architects TLS Landscape Architecture, with the aim of repurposing an aged amusement park at the foot of the iconic Lion Mountain into a central green for a new, technology-focused residential hub. For the Shishan Park project, TLS has designed a district-wide master plan focused on a new circular promenade surrounding the old central lake that once anchored the forgotten fun park. The development is carved into ten subdistricts, each anchored by iconic pavilions—also designed by Kuth Ranieri—and recreational spaces “capitalizing on the site’s natural and man-made lakes as well as the mountain’s historic significance and beauty,” according to the architects. Overall, TLS’s designs highlight 18 “poetic scenes” that visually connect occupants to the existing lake, nature zones, and views of the five distinct mountaintops that can be seen from the site. At the heart of the new urban area is the disused amusement park and its original metallic roller coaster, which Kuth Ranieri plans to convert into a new, 160,000-square-foot visual and functional center for the 182-acre development. Utilizing stainless steel mesh netting to create the outermost enclosure and wooden decking and steel platforms for new occupiable promenades, Kuth Ranieri reenvisions the dilapidated roller coaster as a superscaled aviary. The plan includes a circuitous “infinity walk” that takes occupants up and through the reused roller-coaster structure to perches above the treetops furnished with viewing platforms and an expansive sky deck. The complex can be entered from any one of three access points framed by glass-wrapped concrete parabolic arches that extend into the aviary as covered walkways. Within, the complex will also contain a ten-story circulation tower that can bring visitors up to the highest observation levels. Here, a wide staircase containing landings generous enough to host public programming will wrap the elevator core. The complex will also include a green roof–topped animal care facility. The metallic enclosure surrounding the aviary is inspired by traditional Chinese ink paintings and, more specifically, by representations of Lion Mountain in such artworks. The cascading, rounded geometries of the canopy are designed to evoke “a feeling of layered misty mountains,” according to Kuth Ranieri. The project is scheduled for completion in 2020.
Frank Lloyd Wright proposed the revolutionary suburban utopia Broadacre City in the 1930s. He could not have expected it to inspire artists designing the campus of an online shopping website in China more than eighty years later. China-based Drawing Architecture Studio exhibited a series of panoramic drawings called Taobao Village – Smallacre City at the Venice Architecture Biennale this year, which is a speculative design for the headquarters of Taobao, a Chinese consumer-to-consumer retail platform that garners 580 million monthly active users. Drawing Architecture Studio is a Beijing-based art, architecture and urban research practice cofounded by architect Han Li and designer Yan Hu. In Broadacre City, Wright envisioned that American cities would no longer be centralized and limited to a central business district. Instead, families, each given a one-acre plot of land, would be self-sufficient households commuting mostly with the automobile. His concepts are especially relevant today in China where the rural and urban divide highlights many problems of inequality and inefficiency. The Chinese drawing studio combines Wright’s ideals and a fresh perspective from modern China. The masterplan of Broadacre is used as the basis on which the village of Taobao, the Alibaba-owned, popular e-commerce website, is imagined. According to the architects, their proposal tries to speculate how Taobao and the Internet will contribute to China’s goal to integrate urban and rural economies. The village consists of transport infrastructure and distribution networks of the online shopping empire. Bridges, roads and conveyer belts cross over and intersect each other, constructing a layered, lively cityscape enclosing both the enterprise and the rural-urban complex. The illustrations employ elements from both the East and the West. The composition of the village is symmetrical and organized along a straight axis, recalling the organization of Beijing’s Forbidden City. Eclectic, Western-classical building motifs used in rural Chinese villages alongside traditional Buddhist statues and Chinoiserie columns are depicted in the illustrations. The drawings are part of the exhibition titled Building a future countryside in the Pavilion of China at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
A plan to develop a major arts district and “eco-city” outside Beijing was announced by Guangdong Yuegang Investment Development on Thursday at the 16th Venice Biennale. Located in the Xinglong Valley, just 20 minutes from the city by high speed rail, Valley XL, as the project is being called, will feature a museum, an art park, arts education centers, and artists’ studios, as well as residential and commercial developments. The nearly 1,000 acre development is being overseen by Arquitectonica and the first building to open in 2019, the 8,500-square-foot Valley XL Art Center, a performance space, will be designed by Wang Zhenfei. Along with a center for modern and contemporary art, the Valley XL Museum, the Art Center will be a focal point of the development. The Art Newspaper reports that curator Li Zhenhua will be the advisor to Valley XL and the artist and filmmaker Ju Anqi will be the project video director. Valley XL is a partner of China’s 2018 pavilion, this year themed Building a Future Countryside, curated by Li Xiangxing. The pavilion is focused on the tensions—and innovations—present in the rapid modernization of the once or still rural areas of China. The pavilion presents projects that are being built or have taken place in the countryside over the last several years through installations organized by Dong Yugan, Zhang Lei, Liu Yuyang, Hua Li, Rural Urban Framework, and Philip F. Yuan. Construction on the $2.8 billion planned city, developed by Guangdong Yuegang Investment Development in partnership with Shenzhen XL Culture Development, is expected to begin the second half of this year.
Morphosis Architects is one of the four winning design firms in the running to design Chengdu’s Unicorn Island in China’s Sichuan province, competing with Foster + Partners, a team of Arata Isozaki & Associates and Jun Aoki & Associates, and OMA. As China transitions towards a technology-oriented service economy, Unicorn Island was imagined as a centralized location where start-ups and established companies would be given the resources to grow. Whereas OMA’s plan for the island involved a crosshatch of different buildings for start-ups ringed by headquarters for the Unicorn companies (worth $1 billion or more), Morphosis has designed a series of curvilinear facilities that wrap around the island’s edge. While the island in Chengdu is small, Morphosis took the opportunity to bring big ideas, designing a campus that would be walkable, sustainable, and accessible via mass transit while also building up the city’s skyline. The firm broke the 165-acre island up into four quadrants, with each representing a stage of a Unicorn company’s growth. Flexible office space can be found in all four sections, as well as shared community amenities and a central park and hub for each. The northwestern quadrant has been set aside for education and will contain offshoots of the universities found in Chengdu proper, while the convention and showcase quadrant to the southwest will allow companies to demonstrate their wares. The eastern half of the island would be broken into north and south innovation quadrants, holding accelerator spaces, labs, and administrative support services. At the island’s core would be a massive “Unicorn Tower,” which would serve as the headquarters for the campus’s most successful companies. Other than the central tower, Morphosis chose to keep the other buildings low-slung and accessible from the ground level. Pedestrian access across the island was prioritized, and park-to-park walkways were overlain across the entire site. A proposed metro station near the Unicorn Tower would put most of the island within walking distance from mass transit. For their scheme, Morphosis worked with engineers Buro Happold. No estimated completion or start date has been announced yet.
Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, is rapidly transitioning towards a service-based economy and has enlisted OMA’s help in growing its local tech companies. Following an international design competition sponsored by the Chengdu government, OMA and three other high-profile studios have been chosen to master plan a Unicorn Island for startups and more established tech companies alike. OMA has designed a campus that weaves over the entire island, with skyways that overlap and interconnect, which they call a weave. At the island’s core is the Living Lab, a domed complex with working labs that will be open to the public. Branching out from the Living Lab will be the weave, which will hold startups and “Gazelles” (tech companies worth $1 million or more). The weave has been envisioned as a community space, and OMA has described the area as “village-like” in its project description; this interior section will contain residential housing for employees, a mix of office typologies, and amenity spaces meant to foster mingling between different companies. Along the island’s edge will be headquarters for the "Unicorns" (technology companies worth $1 billion or more), with room for expansion as the companies in the weave increase in value and relocate outwards. From the renderings, it appears that the complex will be massive and extend all the way across Unicorn Island. Interestingly, everything except the waterfront headquarters will be elevated; roads will pass below the floating weave, with four courtyards set aside, one on each block. OMA has also revealed some of the tower typologies that will be present in the weave, including a circulation tower, sports tower, education tower, and relaxation tower for the 16 cores. With such a tightly-condensed campus, parking had to be moved underground. From the site plans, it seems that parking will run under nearly the entire island, with the exception of the area below the Living Lab, which will become an underground plaza. The design of Unicorn Island was led by Chris van Duijn, OMA Partner and Director of OMA Asia. Mobility in Chain provided the traffic consultation and Transsolar acted as the climate engineer. No estimated completion date or project cost has been revealed at the time of writing. The other three winners of the design competition include Morphosis, Foster + Partners, and a team composed of Arata Isozaki & Associates and Jun Aoki & Associates.
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For over eight decades, SOM has been a leading voice in emphasizing structural poetics, or the integration of architectural and engineering efforts into built form. This mashup of rationalism and elegance was on full display at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennale, where they collaborated with Mana Contemporary to deliver a pop-up exhibition titled "SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture]," that ran from September 2017 through early January 2018 at the Ace Hotel. Among sketches, study models, and impressive structural mockup systems sat a lineup of more than 30 structural models at 1:500 scale, arranged by height. Hangzhou Wangchao Center has seamlessly grown out of this impressive survey of work—a design that exists as proof-of-concept to SOM’s design approach. Along with a robustly reinforced concrete core, the 54-story mixed use tower is defined by eight “mega-columns,” as defined by SOM, which weave back and forth as they track upwards. Secondary perimeter columns establish uniform bay spacing to the interior, connected diagonally to the primary corner columns with a Vierendeel transfer truss. Beyond creating an expressive formal shape, the structural configuration offers performance benefits such as wind load reduction and flexible column-free interior floor plates. The resulting unitized facade was carefully designed into a rationalized stepped surface to allow for flat planar glazing units. The canted curtain wall, which follows the tapered massing of the tower, is organized into floor-to ceiling units which slip past the finished floor level to create a sense of continuity from the interior. A recessed shadow box and horizontal fin assembly further articulates a reveal gap between floor plates. This carefully developed building envelope detail offers a discrete path for the building to accommodate natural ventilation.The ground floor building enclosure was engineered to accommodate 36-foot-tall glazing panels around the perimeter of the tower, dissolving the boundary between the surrounding cityscape, and highlighting a massive stone-clad core that blooms outward into the space of the lobby. The tower is currently under construction, with piles for the foundation system being driven into the ground. The project will be complete by 2021 just ahead of Hangzhou’s hosting of the 2022 Asian Games, a multi-sport event held every four years.