Location: Yongjia Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China
Representing qualities of the backstreets (Li ‘long) of Shanghai, The Roof carefully weaves its surrounding culture into its distinctive design, creating a model for future city spaces where people and nature thrive in a destination to see and be seen in.
In early 2018, CIFI appointed ASPECT Studios as part of the project team for delivery of the architectural landscape and living façade design of this iconic building by Jean Nouvel. Appreciating the sites context, culture, and community played a vital role in successfully realizing the vision of the project.
Shanghai is one of the most iconic, modern, fast paced, and densely populated cities in the world. However, the historic 100-year-old laneways provide a completely different experience where there is much to explore and admire; one that is quintessential to the soul of Shanghai hosting its own characteristics, pace of life, community, and culture.
The project is defined by its bold architecture and living façades, sky decks and sky gardens, with plants everywhere, at all heights and depths. Flowers, shrubs, trees, and draping flora form an extraordinary visual and spatial display. The whole place resonates with the feeling of nature and fresh air, adding a special charm to the city and neighbourhood.
The idea of reflecting the DNA of Li ’long has been layered into the design and decision process at each opportunity, to form a place full of diverse forms of social life allowing people to co-exist and connect with nature on multiple levels.
Creating an iconic contemporary office and commercial hub, bordered by vibrant community and commercial spaces, the design respects the scale of the surrounding urban environment, yet has its own depth of detail and individuality. Vivid red and beige brick frame the linear corridors, while an abundance of greenery in potted plants climb, cascade, and thrive on every surface, creating a biophilic environment that’s intrinsic to the Li ’long.
Across the project there is a total of ten façades, which house horizontal arrangements and clusters of planting. Each cluster is a collection of curated species suitable to its climate conditions.
The clusters create an everchanging seasonal display from the atrium to the outer façades. The façade integrations have strongly encouraged wildlife and pollinators into the heart of a dense urban environment, which creates a harmonious place for people and nature.
At the top of the building there are two roof gardens with gathering spaces which are planted with trees that open out to the sky, creating a shared terrace that offers an open view to the urban skyline.
Sky decks on selected floors provide immersive, cool and welcoming spaces that grant the opportunity to walk in nature and appreciate the diverse forms of life.
ASPECT Studios undertook an evidence-based design approach to apprise the design and creative process, helping to guide decisions on planting, biodiversity, development of material palettes and details that reflected the unique character of place.
This process included building a one to one scale mock-up on the outskirts of Shanghai for testing and studying of the complex architecture and structure, as well as an advance growing strategy to achieve robust planting design solutions from the outset.
Data on solar, wind, sun, and other micro-climate related factors that cover both the building and surroundings was digitally analysed in depth using the latest micro climatic modelling tools.
In summer when in leaf, the plants provide interior shade that reduces heavy reliance on air conditioning.
In winter, the deciduous species drop their leaves and help increase natural light exposure while the soil assists to create an additional layer of thermal buffer against the cold air.
Buckle commented, “It was important that the design was more than a simple visual display of generic greenery and planting, instead it was an opportunity to show ‘what could be’ within the cities of tomorrow.
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