3 Chinese Sustainable Architecture Developments

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By Jody McCutcheon

Let’s face it: China isn’t exactly known for its stellar environmental record. Rapid development at any cost has meant that China is one of the most polluted countries in the world.

It’s also a nation that highly prizes innovation and education, and so today, many creative minds are focused on Chinese Sustainable Architecture to help bring more  green spaces to urban environments that desperately need them. We’re seeing this trend more and more around the world, and now we’re seeing it in China, too.

Here are three projects we think are particularly outstanding.

Arcology Skyscraper, Hong Kong


Hong Kong is a compact, densely populated urban centre that needs all the green space it can get. Designed by London architecture studio Weston Williamson, this trio of towers known as the Arcology Skyscraper rise 440 metres from the banks of Victoria Harbour in central Hong Kong. They’re situated atop a planned high-speed railway line that will connect to Mainland China; as such, the complex is among a series of designs from Weston Williamson focused on transportation and its relation to architecture.


The Arcology development is nicknamed the “Kissing Towers” for how the towers taper or lean toward each other between the twenty-first and twenty-fifth floors, as though they’re kissing. This leaning together creates a main public space that allows access to the three diverging towers above. Dubbed a “self-sufficient, self-sustaining vertical neighbourhood” on the Weston Williamson website, the towers constitute a mixed-use complex consisting of three main functional zones spread across 250,000 square metres. The lowest zone houses offices and commercial space, the middle levels are considered an “agriculture zone” and the upper zone is composed of residential units.


Several features of sustainability allow the Arcology Skyscraper to tread lightly on the environment, including a green roof, a rainwater and greywater run-off collection and recycling system, and the high-rise’s ability to use geothermal wells for hot water storage. An agricultural terrace grows the food consumed by the building’s denizens, with natural daylight maximized by a glazed faà§ade and shallow floor plates facilitating successful agricultural growth. Residential winter gardens help regulate the internal climate. And the base of the complex is adorned with a sizeable landscaped square that offers welcomed (and welcoming) waterfront green space.


The portmanteau arcology is a fitting moniker for the towers. Combining the words “architecture” and “ecology,” it refers to architecture specifically envisioned for densely populated areas. Kudos to Weston Williamson for bringing some lushness and vegetation to a place packed with people and pavement. If a place like Hong Kong can find ways to go greener, so can other concrete jungles and urban people pockets.

The Mountain Hotel Project

His  vertical forest creations were wildly lauded and loved by all who saw them. And now, Stefano Boeri Architetti  (SBA) is planning  a new project in Guizhou, China that will take  sustainable architecture  to the next level. The Mountain Hotel project involves  a 250-room hotel inspired by nature and so green that it will actually improve the air around it. That’s because, like the firm’s other green buildings, this one will be covered in greenery from the foundation to the roof.


The result is not only a visually arresting panorama, it’s the creation of a new, tiny eco system that will encourage new life: nesting birds and insects, bringing new life to an otherwise overdeveloped area. Guests of the hotel will delight in the natural world surrounding them, even as close as right on their own balconies, making this hotel a destination in itself.


The building will feature a 182-room Cachet Resort Hotel and a 71-room URBN hotel, two restaurants and lounges, a swimming pool, spa and fully equipped fitness centre, as well as  a Cachet Hotel cSPA, which boasts an environmentally friendly design created by WTS consultancy.  The owner of the project is the Guizhou Wanfeng Valley Ecological Cultural & Tourism Development Company, and the hotel is perfectly located near the airport, as well as shopping, dining, convention and entertainment outlets.

Green-loving Boeri has built a reputation for his use of plants and flowers in urban environments, and his famous residential Vertical Forest in Milan  was named the Best Tall Building Worldwide for 2015 by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.


Images: Stefano Boeri Architetti

Silo Revival  by Kyle Beneventi

An  abandoned  packaging district in  Guangzhou China, known as Redtory, is being renewed and repopulated: converting derelict warehouse buildings into artist lofts and studios. This international competition proposal revives a massive  abandoned  silo into the district’s iconic center for creation and display by embodying and expressing the creative process in built form.


The creative process is not linear, but a transient movement between tangible and ethereal, practical and experimental. Researching other artists completed work  informs ones final design, and the iterative nature of that design process refines the product. Once presented, this final design can inform  the next creator and start the entire creative process anew.


The silo allows for seamless interaction between disciplines and minimizes the boundary  between individual and collaborative design, while the projecting bridges beautifully displays the artist’s work; analogously inviting the viewer into the mind of the artist.



Images: skylebeneventi.com/silorevival

Jody McCutcheon
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