Eco-friendly Architecture in Shanghai

June 18th, 2013  |  by  |  Published in Features, Shape of the City

Shanghai Tower

Shanghai currently has 100 buildings listed under China’s Green Building Label, which awards up to three stars for constructions identified as low-carbon in their design or operation. Currently flying the flag for this architectural eco-boom, the sustainable skyscraper known as the Shanghai Tower has been long-awaited. By the time it opens in 2015, several more eco-buildings will be hot on its heels. Whether you’re coming to Shanghai on business or for holidays this year, let’s take a look at the tower, as well as some of the other green projects putting Shanghai on the map.


The partially-constructed spiral of the Shanghai Tower already dominates the busy Finance and Trade Zone in Lujiazui. When complete, it will measure a staggering 632 metres from bottom to top, making it second only to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in terms of height. In reality, it’s composed of nine sections arranged on top of each other and will create both business, retail and restaurants. But how is it environmentally-sound?


Well, the design is set to save around 24% on building materials, with a precisely-calculated resistance to wind pressure. The already-iconic spiral cleverly catches rainfall and redirects it for use in ventilating and heating. Even the nine futuristic-sounding ‘sky gardens’ between the outer and inner casing will produce insulation for the whole construction, as well as bringing some welcome fresh air into the proceedings.


But there’s more to come. Another initiative due for completion in two years’ time is the ‘Green Valley’, a new commercial development which has just begun on the former site of the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Because much of the infrastructure from the event remains, architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen already have a head start on their plans to landscape an eco-friendly commercial district. Complete with parks, art and events hubs and waterways, the design has a strong drive towards sustainable operation and nature-inspired spaces.


Elsewhere, in the Minhang District, the Shanghai Research Institute of Building Sciences’ office has already been awarded three-star ratings under the Green Label for both the architectural plan and day-to-day running. It boasts a smart ventilation system – including windows which open automatically when the room becomes warmer – solar energy and an impressive 60% recycled construction materials. The office was built in 2004, and has now been joined by two prototype apartment blocks on the site, working to the same principles, which certainly bodes well for the future of eco-homes in the city.


In fact, although the only truly ‘green’ buildings in the city are commercial rather than residential at present, there are already plans under way by local companies such as Zero Carbon System, for pre-fab housing to be built north-west of Shanghai in the Jiangsu Province.


Add to this the on-going regeneration in places like Chenjia Town, which has already won the 2013 National Green Building Innovation Award for its demo eco-building, and it seems Shanghai is pulling ahead in the race to conserve our planet’s natural resources.


Image by Bert van Dijk used under creative commons licence


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