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Steven Holl Architects - Four projects in China under construction

Steven Holl is currently establishing a major presence in China, considering four grand projects that are planned to open between 2008-2010. “Linked Hybrid” is a mixed used building in Beijing, as well as “Chengdu Project” and “Vanke Center” in Shenzen, not to forget the Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture.

Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture (Nanjing, China)

The new museum is sited at the gateway to the Contemporary International Practical Exhibition of Architecture in the lush green landscape of the Pearl Spring near Nanjing, China. The museum explores the shifting viewpoints, layers of space, and expanses of mist and water, which characterize the deep alternating spatial mysteries of the composition of Chinese painting. The straight passages on the ground level gradually turn into the winding passage of the figure above. The upper gallery, suspended high in the air, unwraps in a clockwise turning sequence and culminates at “in-position” viewing of the city of Nanjing in the distance. This visual axis creates a linkage back to the great Ming Dynasty capital city. Limiting the colors of the museum to black and white connects it to the ancient ink paintings, but also gives a background to feature the colors and textures of the artwork to be exhibited. The walls are of blackened concrete which is formed in bamboo-lined formwork. The texture gives a relief of the cross joints of native bamboo. The 3 000 square meter museum's flexible exhibition spaces are complimented by a Tea House and curator's residence facing the south light and re-circulated water of the pond. Geothermal cooling and heating recycled and low embodied energy materials are part of the green building aims of the project. 

Linked Hybrid (Beijing, China)

Filmic urban space around, over and through multifaceted spatial layers, is one of the central aims of this Hybrid Building complex with over 700 apartments sited adjacent to the old city wall of Beijing. The aspiration of the developer Modern Group is for an ultra-modern expression of 21st Century ecological urban living, in this 220 000 square meter project. This “city within a city” envisions urban space as the central aim - as well as all the activities and programs that can support the daily life of over 2500 inhabitants: café’s, delis, laundry, dry cleaners, florists etc, line the main public passages. The eight towers are linked at the twentieth floor by a ring of cafes and services. The polychrome architecture of Ancient China here inspires a new phenomenal dimension especially inscribing the “spatiality of the night”. The undersides of the cantilevered portions are colored membranes in night light glow. Misting fountains from the water retention basin activate the night light in colorful clouds, while the floating Cineplex centerpiece has partial images of its ongoing films projected on its undersides and reflected in the water. Mass housing in China has historically been standardized and repetitive. This new vertical urban sector aspires to individuation in urban living. Hundreds of different apartment layouts in a huge variety of types will be available among the 728 living spaces constructed here.   Digitally driven prefabricated construction of the exterior structure of the eight towers allows for “beamless” ceilings. Every apartment has two exposures with no interior hallways. Principles of Feng-Shui are followed throughout the complex, which is aimed at sustainability “LEED Gold” rating.

Vanke Center (Shenzen, China) 

The Vanke Cetner is a progressive new sustainable mixed-use complex in Shenzen on a 60 000 square meter site on the coast of the South China Sea. The building, a floating horizontal skyscraper, will contain a conference center, hotel, serviced apartments and offices. Steven Holl Architects had won the invited competition for the building that is scheduled to open in 2009. Rather than create a series of building shapes that address the various uses within the complex, Steven Holl Architects’ design combines all the various programs into one grand vision. Hovering over an inventive ‘sea scribble’ garden, the collision of buildings appears as if they were once floating on a higher sea, which has now subsided, leaving them propped up high on glass and white coral-like legs. The open plan provides space for the intricate multi-faceted daily life at the ground level to evolve and change. As a vision of tropical sustainability for the 21st century, Vanke Center incorporates several new sustainable elements designed specifically for the development. The floating buildings create a flexible area of shaded landscape underneath the building, allowing sea and land breezes to pass through the site. Special geothermal cooled waterscape in the form of radiative cooling lakes create a microclimate. Moveable façade screens made of special composites protect the inner glass against high solar and typhoon. Renewable energy such as solar power and geothermal cooling are among the key issues to be explored in this project.

Sliced Porosity Block (Chengdu, China) 

Last but not least, the 'Sliced Porosity Block' is the project for a mixed used complex, that is planned to open in late 2010. Its sun sliced geometry results from minimum daylight exposures to the surrounding urban fabric prescribed by code. Porous and inviting from every side, five vertical entrances cut through a layer of micro-urban shopping before leading to the elevated public 'Three Valley' plaza. This multi-level plaza in the center of the complex is sculpted by stone steps, ramps, trees, and ponds. Here the public space parallax of overlapping geometries in strict black and white is supercharged by color that glows from the shops positioned underneath the plaza. Three ponds function as skylights to the six-story shopping precinct below, and are pierced by diagonal stray escalators that thrust upwards to three 'buildings within buildings'. Residing on voids in the facades of the sculpted blocks these pavilions are designed by Steven Holl (history pavilion), Lebbeus Woods (high tech pavilion), and Ai Wei Wei (Du Fu pavilion). The 'Sliced Porosity Block' is heated and cooled geo-thermally and the large plaza ponds harvest recycled rainwater while the natural grasses and lily pads create a natural cooling effect. High-performance glazing, energy-efficient equipment and the use of regional materials are just a few of the other methods employed to reach the LEED gold rating.

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