China’s New ‘Horizontal Skyscraper’ Frees up Parkspace

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.

Read the article

6 thoughts on “China’s New ‘Horizontal Skyscraper’ Frees up Parkspace

  1. Daniel Jost 04/14/2009 / 5:31 pm

    It will be interesting to see if they can pull this off. Trying to plant anything adjacent to a typical skyscraper is hard enough, due to the shade issues. I wonder what they’ll be able to plant beneath this “horizontal skyscraper”. My fear is they will eventually give up on the park idea and plant a parking lot.

    Even if the area under the building is successfully developed as a park, you have to wonder if there is as much value to “parkland” where you can’t see the sky. Sitting in the shade under a tree is very different than sitting in the shade under a building.

    Finally, it will be interesting from the social standpoint. The spaces beneath the building will be huge, so they’ll feel very empty if you can’t program them in some way. How will they keep these spaces from becoming, windswept areas that have no attraction for people and actually discourage people from walking in the nicer open spaces nearby?

    I was in Philly the other day and there is a neighborhood where the elevated train blocks out the sky as you walk down the street. It was like being in some sort of futuristic distopia. I fear this project will create that same feeling.

  2. cbarrada 04/15/2009 / 1:49 pm

    This project seems as though it has a worthy goal, the creation of additional park land, but will most likely fail in the excecution. The space beneath the building will more than likely feel cold, isolated and overwhelming to the pedestrian.

    Think about trying to create a scaled, interesting park space underneath a 30′ high elevated 10-lane highway. It will take an extremely creative design team to pull this off.

    Additionally, will roads be allowed to cut underneath the building? With the footprint being so linear, are the developers setting up a “superblock” or “radiant city” scenerio, where streetscapes and human scaled elements dominate rather than vast expanses of park land?

  3. antimodernist 04/16/2009 / 9:24 am

    le corb & the international style gang tried this exact design once before and it failed then. consider the sharp light difference, full shade to full tropical sun. it will look like a pitch black cave from the outside

  4. Michael 04/22/2009 / 2:29 am

    Yes, superblocks are more and more common in China, although they have been common in China for a long time due to the work-unit system, where factory, housing and recreation were all combined in one fenced off block.

    All ground plazas in China end up as parking lots–although Vanke is better than most developers in this regard.

  5. Georgia 04/30/2009 / 12:54 pm

    Am confused about the horizontal nature of a skyscraper. Similar concerns as Daniel Jost. Unsure about the physiological and emotional experiences of a park beneath a building. Also, breezeways of this kind are rarely socially successful, even in residential applications.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s