China Vanke, one of the largest real estate developers on the mainland, is building a new ‘horizontal skyscraper’ that would be the height of the Empire State Building, if it was standing. Lying horizontally, the building is just 35 meters tall, and designed to take up little space on the ground. According to Shanghai Daily, the “building itself will be raised on eight columns so that its ground floor is at the same height as the third floor of most other buildings. This “floating” design is poetically described by its designers as if the building were “once floating on a higher sea that has now subsided; leaving the structure propped up high on glass and white, coral-like legs.”
The columns are also designed to free up space for parks underneath and around the building. “The elevated structure frees up ground space which is made into a public park, with the building itself providing shaded areas. Rather than the conventional walled-off nature of corporate compounds, as much land as possible will thus be given back to the public. Sea and land breezes can blow freely through the underside of the buildings and into a garden of tropical plants, pools and walkways with cafes and restaurants.” Shanghai Daily says the park design will be modern, yet natural, channeling Brazilian landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx.
The building’s architect, Steven Holl, is aiming for LEED Platinum. “Maximization of green space outside, and natural light inside the building will contribute to this lofty goal. As well the large rooftop space resulting from the horizontal design allows for significant solar panel installations which are projected to provide up to 12 percent of the building’s energy needs. The large park space will be fed by rainwater capture systems. Shenzhen’s wet, tropical climate provides enough rain to keep the plants green, and rainwater gutters on the roof collect water for use in irrigation and fountains.”
The building is expected to be completed by 2010. Shanghai Daily thinks it’s significant that a leading real estate developer in China is creating this building, a green model for China’s building market.