Snøhetta just won the competition for the Shanghai Grand Opera House, set to rise in the Expo Houtan neighborhood of the Chinese city. The Oslo and New York–based firm's design centers around a massive corkscrew stair that connects the theater's roof to an entry plaza that then runs down to the banks of the nearby Huangpu River. The grand public plaza and gently-sloped roof are meant to create a generous new public space in the vein of what the firm did for its Oslo Opera House. Other aspects of the Shanghai Grand resemble the Oslo project: three theaters pop through the overall roof, and a large glass wall surrounds the main lobby. The new building trades in the Oslo Opera's crisp, sculptural form for a looser, radiating geometry. Interestingly, the designers did not mention the Oslo Opera House as a related project but named several others in the firm's oeuvre. “The Shanghai Grand Opera House is a natural progression of our previous work with designing performing arts centers,” says Snøhetta founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen in a statement. “It is a culmination of the competence and insight gained through projects such as the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the Busan Opera House in South Korea, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Canada, and the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers renovation in Paris. The Shanghai Grand Opera House is a product of our contextual understanding and values, designed to promote public ownership of the building for the people of Shanghai and beyond." Like Oslo, most of the building's exterior is off-white, presumably concrete, but the lobby is lined with bright red silk. There will be three theaters in the building: a 2,000-seat main auditorium, 1,200-seat second stage, and a 1,000-seat third stage. The smaller spaces are meant for less traditional shows to connect with a "younger audience," according to the designers. The project will be completed in collaboration with the Shanghai-based firm ECADI.
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Brought to you with support fromThe district of Pudong in Shanghai has exploded over the last two decades with approximately 10 percent annual population growth, while the city’s skyline has soared eastward to the East China Sea. FGP Atelier, a Chicago-based firm founded by Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, has imprinted its distinctive style in the district with the Land Rover tower-and-retail complex featuring a ceramic fritted glass facade. The complex is spread over a 185,000-square-foot campus, with the two 21-story towers located on the northeastern and southwestern corners.
ceramic frit pattern, which extends from the towers to the two-story retail spaces ringing the development, is both practical and symbolic. Covering up to 35 percent of the facades, the ceramic pattern is a sun filter that also conceals interior support columns and other infrastructural details. Symbolically, the diaphanous pattern evokes the dense foliage of China’s bamboo forests. “The organic feel that results balances the regularity of the plan and allows the building to change as light hits the various surfaces in different manners,” said Gonzalez-Pulido. “This transformation is particularly present as the sun sets and the building glows from within.” Produced by Chinese-manufacturer Yuanda, the custom glass unitized curtain wall consists of a triple layer laminated design, with the ceramic pattern in the third layer. Because making every 5-by-15-foot facade panel unique would be too expensive, FGP Atelier arranged 52 patterns with a parametric design tool that mirrored and rotated different panels into a rationalized layout. While the overall approach remained consistent throughout the design process, shifting government mandates forced the design team to regularly go back to the drawing board. Originally, FGP Atelier wanted facade panels to be over 50 percent covered by the ceramic frit. However, governmental concerns regarding the quality of Chinese ceramics dictated that at most only half of each panel could be covered. The design team addressed this challenge by hollowing larger ceramic components while maintaining the original pattern. As the project moved forward, another spanner was thrown into the works by the local regulatory body. Because of concerns regarding the reflectivity of the glass curtain wall, Shanghai's building department dictated that FGP Atelier incorporate stainless steel fins—a reflective material—to dampen the iridescence of the curtain wall. To reduce the obtrusiveness of this element from the otherwise smooth facade, the design team opted for black-coated stainless steel, which effectively mirrors the pattern of the ceramic frit.The
Printing concrete has long been looked to as a way to speed up construction times and cut waste, and more and more projects are being 3-D printed, from barracks to outdoor furniture. Now, the world’s largest 3-D-printed concrete pedestrian bridge has been completed in Shanghai, China, across the city’s Wisdom Bay pond. The 86-foot-long, 12-foot-wide bridge was designed and fabricated by a team from Tsinghua University School of Architecture's Zoina Land Joint Research Center for Digital Architecture (JCDA) led by professor Xu Weiguo. The curvaceous bridge, which mimics billowing fabric for the railings and uses pavers patterned after brain coral for the pedestrian portion, was inspired by the Anji Bridge in Zhaoxian, China. The bridge’s construction was a joint effort with the Shanghai Wisdom Bay Investment Management Company. This isn't the first time that a bridge has been robotically fabricated; see the stainless-steel bridge produced by MX3D for a canal in Amsterdam. However, this concrete bridge is more than twice the length of its steel counterpart. The bridge structure is composed of 44 separate hollow units, while the handrails were pieced together from 68 hollow blocks, all of them printed from a proprietary polyethylene fiber concrete mix meant to ensure a steady rate of flow while printing. First, a one-quarter-scale model of the bridge was printed to test the structure’s integrity. Then, over the course of 450 hours, two robotic arms printed the components for the full-size bridge. Vibration and strain-monitoring sensors have been embedded throughout the structure to track the bridge’s stability in real time and allow researchers to pinpoint where the greatest amount of stress is occurring.
Internationally renowned architect Albert Speer, Jr. died on September 15 at the age of 83. He was one of Germany’s most respected architects and urban planners in his own right, but spent much of his career trying to separate his reputation from his father’s, who served as Adolf Hitler's chief architect. While father and son are tied together by blood, Speer, Sr. and Speer, Jr.'s architectural legacies have left contrasting marks on the built environment. The elder’s radical visions and mostly uncompleted projects are remembered as dark points in architectural history, while Speer Jr.’s modest and progressive approach to city planning have been widely respected within the design community. Speer, Sr., sometimes referred to as "the devil's architect," carried out some of the most flagrant architectural projects of the Third Reich, including the (subsequently demolished) Reich Chancellery, and his intricate plans to turn Berlin into a capital of overwhelming monumental scale, a project which stayed mostly un-completed due to the fall of the Nazi regime. Over the past five decades, Albert Speer Jr. and his Frankfurt-based firm, Albert Speer + Partner, has focused on “human-scale” buildings and sustainable city planning. While Speer Jr. completed numerous projects in his home city of Frankfurt, many of his firm's most renowned projects have been large-scale international commissions. The firm's work ranges from architecture, urban planning, transportation, landscape design and mega-event commissions such as the master plan leading to a successful bid for the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup. Other works include international campuses, residential developments, small-scale mixed use developments, educational facilities, and international government buildings. Despite prolonged attempts to overcome his father’s legacy, the architect would occasionally bump up against his family's fascist reputation. When Albert Speer + Partner decided to work on a commissioned project for a courthouse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the firm was accused of working with an authoritarian government, and directly compared to Speer, Sr.’s Nazi legacy. Even-though Speer, Jr.’s discreet, humble and progressive designs were often seen as a conscious attempt to go against his father’s style, comparisons and criticism still arose. Speer Jr.’s family heritage could never be fully erased. The designer of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, Jewish American architect Peter Eisenman, Speer's colleague and friend for many years, reflected on their relationship in the Guardian: "With Albert, there is a bit of an edge, but we are great friends. It's the fascination of the other; Albert always wanted to be a Jewish intellectual, and I always wanted to be a f…[fascist] We can't all be what we want to be.”
This article was originally published on ArchDaily as "Sasaki Unveils Design for Sunqiao, a 100-Hectare Urban Farming District in Shanghai." With nearly 24 million inhabitants to feed and a decline in the availability and quality of agricultural land, the Chinese megacity of Shanghai is set to realize the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District, a 100-hectare (247.1-acre) masterplan designed by Watertown, Massachusetts and Shanghai-based firm Sasaki Associates. Situated between Shanghai’s main international airport and the city center, Sunqiao will introduce large-scale vertical farming to the city of soaring skyscrapers. While primarily responding to the growing agricultural demand in the region, Sasaki’s vision goes further, using urban farming as a dynamic living laboratory for innovation, interaction, and education. Shanghai is an ideal city for vertical farming. High land prices make building upwards more economically viable than building outwards, while the demand for leafy greens in the typical Shanghainese diet can be met with efficient urban hydroponic and aquaponics systems. Sasaki’s master plan, therefore, deploys a range of urban-friendly farming techniques, such as algae farms, floating greenhouses, green walls, and vertical seed libraries. Sunqiao represents more than a factory for food production, however. Sasaki’s master plan creates a robust public realm, celebrating agriculture as a key component of urban growth. An interactive greenhouse, science museum, aquaponics showcase, and festival market signal an attempt to educate generations of children about where their food comes from. Meanwhile, sky plazas, office towers, and civic greens represent a desire to create a mixed-use, dynamic, active environment far removed from traditional, sprawling, rural farmlands. Sunqiao will not be an alien concept to Shanghai. Whereas western countries depend on large-scale, rural, corporate farming, small-scale agriculture has traditionally dominated Shanghai’s urban landscape. However, the scale of Sasaki’s approved scheme does indicate the increased value placed on China’s agriculture sector. China is the world’s biggest consumer and exporter of agricultural products, with the industry providing 22% of the country’s employment, and 13% of its Gross Domestic Product. The Chinese government is therefore keen to preserve, modernize, and showcase an industry which has helped to significantly reduce poverty rates, and has influenced the growth of the biotech and textile industries. "This approach actively supports a more sustainable food network while increasing the quality of life in the city through a community program of restaurants, markets, a culinary academy, and pick-your-own experience,” explained Sasaki in a press release. “As cities continue to expand, we must continue to challenge the dichotomy between what is urban and what is rural. Sunqiao seeks to prove that you can have your kale and eat it too.” News via: Sasaki Associates Written by Niall Patrick Walsh. Want more from ArchDaily? Like their Facebook page here.
When wives or girlfriends utter the phrase "Let's go shopping!" on a Saturday afternoon, husbands and boyfriends may groan at the thought of the impending boredom, or find themselves suddenly paralyzed by the fear of hours on end in the women's section of local department stores. In an effort to create a more pleasant mall experience for both genders, the Vanke Mall in Shanghai recently opened a "Husband Nursery." The space (originally reported on by China Daily) is equipped with lounge chairs, a massage chair, a television, a fridge, magazines, and newspapers. Husbands and boyfriends can relax while their wives and girlfriends are cruising the shopping floors. When those ladies are all spent and ready to go, they'll know where to find their significant others. Located in Qibao, a smaller town in the Minhang District of Shanghai, Vanke Mall also offers a Tree House playground for kids.
Designs by Chicago-based Goettsch Partners, along with Hong Kong-based Lead 8, have been chosen for a 2,841,672-square-foot, mixed-use complex in Shanghai. The Financial Street Shanghai Railway Station Mixed-Use Development is spread across two parcels of land just north of the Shanghai Rail Station. The project provides pedestrian routes connecting the project to adjacent sites and public transportation hubs with above and below grade paths and bridges. David Buffonge, cofounder and executive director of Lead 8 explained that “Financial Street Shanghai creates a sustainable urban environment that will concentrate walkable, compact densities around a vibrant mixed-use site near Shanghai Railway Station.” On the eastern parcel of the project, a 161,459-square-foot office building is accompanied by 484,375 square feet of loft apartments, and 161,458 square feet of retail space. The western parcel includes 1,410,072 square feet of office space, another 581,251 square feet of retail,236,806 square feet of loft apartment space, and a 53,819-square-foot cultural center. These programs are spread through five main buildings surrounded by shared public spaces and green retail streets. The office buildings also connect with the outdoors with indoor-outdoor work spaces, specifically tailored to appeal to technology and start-up companies. Both Goettsch and Lead 8 worked on the master plan for the project. Goettsch is leading the design on all the office and residential portions of the western parcel and the exterior design of the eastern parcel, while Lead 8 is handling all of the retail portions. Lead 8 is a young office founded in 2014. Their name, a partial acronym, stands for living environments, architecture and design. With offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, they focus on large-scale, mixed-use, and transit-oriented developments.
The Willis Tower (formerly known as, and still referred to by locals as, the Sears Tower) has been bumped from the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) top ten tallest buildings in the world list with the completion of the Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China. The significance of the Willis Tower’s fall from the top ten is in the fact that Chicago, as the birthplace of the skyscraper typology, has consistently been included in the list of top ten tallest buildings for at least the last 50 years. At 1,450 feet tall, the Willis Tower held the position of tallest in the world for 24 years from 1974–1998, when it was topped by the 1,483-foot-tall Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat measures buildings “from the level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flagpoles or other functional-technical equipment” Perhaps in a twist of irony, the tallest buildings in the world that have pushed Chicago out of the rankings have often been designed in Chicago or by Chicago-based offices. Though designed in its San Francisco office, the Shanghai Tower is the work of Chicago-based Gensler. The current world’s tallest building, Dubai's 2,717-foot-tall Burj Khalifa, was designed by Chicago-based SOM, also the designers of the Willis Tower. SOM is also responsible for the design of One World Trade Center in New York, which bumped the Willis Tower from its position as tallest building in the United States. Chicago-based Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, former design partner and head of the Burj Khalifa project at SOM, is also responsible for the Jeddah Tower which will take the crown of tallest in the world when it is completed in 2020, rising over Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at a height of over 3,300 feet. Though Chicago no longer boasts the tallest skyline, the expertise of its architects is in higher demand than ever. According to the CTBUH, Chicago’s Willis Tower, and many other towers in the United States, will hardly break the top 50 tallest buildings in the world within the next 10 years, yet it can counted on that many of the multitudes of Asian towers soon to be crowding the top will be designed in the city where it all began.
In 2013, Rotterdam-based MVRDV won the competition to design and masterplan the so-called Sustainable Business Park at Shanghai Hongqiao. With the firm's design set to open in early 2016, the first and main structure of the masterplan, the Flower Building, is now complete. MVRDV designed the Flower Building to have both strong formal identity and rental flexibility. Due to its programmatic adaptability and environmental aspects, the Flower Building is set to receive the 3-star Green Building Label, the highest energy performance rating in China. The project was developed by Sincere Property Group. The master plan will also include nine other MVRDV office buildings and one Aedas underground shopping center, that, together, will total 1.2 million square feet of offices, 506,000 square feet of retail space, and 590,000 square feet of parking. The Sustainable Business Park is adjacent to a high speed train station and Shanghai Hongqiao, the fourth busiest airport in mainland China. Originally dominated by boulevards and expressways, the complex is scaling down to embrace the pedestrian with walking streets and plazas, some meandering through the Flower Building itself. Four "legs" merge as they rise to form a single building topped with plazas and pathways. The ground floor consists of retail, and the top floor is connected, fitting either one or multiple tenants. The exterior facade consists of insulated paneling arranged in a shifting grid, creating a transparent ground level that becomes more opaque as the building rises. This contraction in the facade at the upper levels, along with the self-shading, cantilevered form, reduces the need for air-conditioning, according to MVRDV. All ten MVRDV buildings will have green roofs meant to create habitat for local species. With this environmental sensitivity, along with proximity to public transportation, rainwater collection, and permeable road surfaces, the entire Sustainable Business Park will receive 3 stars for the Chinese Green Building Label.
From Functional to Fashionable: glass blocks used to create a glowing facade in Shanghai.Located in a high-end fashion district in Shanghai, this storefront was dramatically reclad in a custom glass block assembly by Toronto-based architecture studio UUfie. The facade is part of an adaptive reuse project, converting an old office building into a new flagship store for fashion house Ports 1961. Eiri Ota, the Director and Principal Architect of UUfie, says the design concept evokes the idea of a landform that resembles an iceberg floating freely in the ocean, “During the day, [the facade] mutes the surroundings, while subtly reflecting the sunlight. In the evening, the view is icy and crisp, and the surface illuminates with embedded LED lights integrated into the joints of the masonry.” The iceberg concept is inspired in part by the fashion brand’s celebration of the spirit of travel. The facade is composed of two types of glass blocks, a standard 12” (300mm) square block and a custom mitered block of the same dimensions. The use of corner blocks offers a seamless uninterrupted materiality. From a distance a larger grid emerges, registering the facade control joints and steel frame beyond. The grid acts as an organizing element for the building envelope, controlling the limits of the material while providing a basis for formal adjustments to the massing of the facade. At key moments, the building face pulls and pushes, establishing the main pedestrian entry and billboard displays for passersby. Ota relates these design moves to the building’s context, “the building has a sense of being undulated, expanding and contracting, as if it is shaped by its environment.” UUfie was able to achieve a three-dimensional “corbeling” look for the glass block by carefully integrating steel plates into the design. As the facade tapers, the blocks rest on a stainless steel plate of the same dimension, which extends to a steel frame. LED lighting, inserted into the masonry joints casts light toward the interior, which is indirectly reflected back to the exterior, establishing a soft glow effect and conveying the depth of the assembly. UUfie’s Toronto-base office worked to refine the detailing of the wall system to ensure that the on-site assembly process would operate as smoothly as possible, which meant condensing the number of connections in the modular assembly down to a set of standard details. This effort doubly helped to establish a rigorously refined aesthetic and efficient construction process, reflecting Ports 1961’s approach to carefully honed craft production. The finishes selected for the facade were a thoughtful addition to the project. The glass block is a satin finish, and the underside of the exposed steel plates is shot blasted to create a soft matte finish. These deliberately “soft” finishes operate contextually to contrast with Shanghai’s electric chaos. Ota attributes the success of the project to the facade’s materiality and formal massing: “The differing geometries and changing perspectives of the facade express the transformative nature of the city and the people of Shanghai.”
London skyline as battleground: Designers render 3D-printed chess pieces in the shape of iconic architecture
City skylines can seem at times like battlegrounds, with architects vying for superlatives of tallest, grandest, and bizarrest. Skyline Chess, founded by London-based designers Chris Prosser and Ian Flood, reimagines chess pieces as miniature models of the city’s landmark buildings. The ubiquitous terraced house, oft seen in indistinguishable cookie-cutter rows, is recast as the humble pawn, while the iconic Big Ben plays the rook, the London Eye Ferris wheel stands in for the Knight, and the Bishop is supplanted with The Gherkin. Meanwhile, Renzo Piano’s 87-story Shard in Southwark, London, presides as Queen, while the reigning honor of King-dom is bestowed upon the 4.5 inch-tall Canary Wharf, one of the UK’s two main financial centers. “In developing the idea we thought long and hard about suitable alternatives for the chessmen, both in terms of their architecture and symbolic value as well as their value on the chessboard,” the designers wrote on their website. “We believe that as individual objects they are beautiful and when arranged across the board represent something unique.” Lovers of architecture, Prosser and Flood developed their idea over a series of chess matches, modeled the pieces in 3D, and then 3D-printed them in injection-molded acrylic. Each piece is double-weighted and has a felt base. In 2013, the designers launched a campaign on popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter, but won just over $14,000 in pledges of the approximately $39,000 requested to fund their startup. While crowdfunding fell through, seeing as the site operates on an all-or-nothing funding model, Prosser and Flood secured investment elsewhere. In addition to trotting out its first architecture-influenced edition, Skyline Chess creates bespoke chess sets for lovers of the strategic board game, and has its eye on developing sets based on the architectural icons of Rome, New York, Dubai, and Shanghai.
The acclaimed architectural firm that once decked the walls of a Tokyo Yakitori bar with LAN cables recently completed designs for the latest retail outlet of Shang Xia, a Chinese culture–inspired offshoot of the renowned Hérmes fashion brand. Touted as “a space combining retail, culture and the arts,” the Shanghai-based space is an expanse of natural wood and sandstone housed in an unassuming red-brick French villa. The interior walls sport a plastic-meets-cloth veneer that has been tri-axially folded into honeycomb-like indentations. Heat-treated and shaped in Japan, the material has the shape-memory texture and strength of plastic and the softness of natural cloth. Founded by designer Jiang Qiong Er, the brand is dedicated to the art of living as embodied by Chinese heritage and craftsmanship, retailing fine decorative objects, sculptural furniture, luxurious garments and rare accessories. Guided by a 21st-century Asian aesthetic, the elegant, 1,356-square-foot retail space is fronted by a pixelated all-glass veneer facing the thrumming streets of Xintiandi, near Shanghai’s commercial center. The work of famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the outlet includes exhibition space for arts and culture. The architect also previously designed Shiang Xia’s outlets in Beijing and Paris, the latter resplendent with a lattice of over 10,000 glistening tiles extending into a layered ceiling installation. Meanwhile, the Beijing store contained latticed partitions of extended aluminium, which evoked a brickwork skeleton.