Architect: Heatherwick Studio
Location: Shanghai, China
Date: (in progress)
Text from Heatherwick Studio
Following the success of the UK Pavilion for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, the studio was invited to create a new multi-use complex next to Shanghai’s art district, M50. Bordered on one side by a public park and on the other three sides by concrete towers, the site incorporated several historic buildings and was split between two plots separated by a narrow strip of government land. The studio’s aim was to design a building which would relate to the park and arts district and, while meeting the client’s requirement for a large and dense development, would have interest at a human scale. (cont below)
Early studies suggested that a project of this size would require at least 800 structural columns to support it. From this point the studio began to explore how these columns, normally hidden with the structure, could become a prominent feature of the building and articulate its mass more finely. The studio also wanted to integrate planting into the structure as a visual extension of the nearby park.
The idea that developed was to create two tree-covered mountains, using the tops of columns as large planters for thousands of trees and shrubs. Arranged in an orthogonal grid across the site, the columns emerge from the building to form the mountains, sloping down towards the arts district and the park. A bridge over the government land links the undulating topography and the historic buildings are integrated as focal points within the development, creating an element of contrast and surprise.