Located in Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou is a city of nine million and growing 100 miles southwest of Shanghai. It has a favorable location given its proximity to the ocean, a river delta, rich farmlands, and scenic hillsides. Its temperate climate yields lush vegetation, abundant crops and a pleasant year round environment.
The client, a large Chinese housing developer, wished to create a new building that represented its vision for sustainable housing and “healthy” living in the future. To that end, this project was intended to embody the design concepts and technologies which support sustainable housing practices. While this building was about the “future” strategies for meeting China’s environmental challenges, it was also important that the design relate to the local culture.
The program serves both the local residential community as well as outside visitors. Consequently, recreational spaces and amenities comprise 50% of the program. They include a pool, running track, small gym, and restaurant. The remaining half of the program combines conference and meeting spaces with exhibit spaces highlighting the sustainable concepts and features integrated within the building. The exhibit and gathering spaces are designed to be flexible, so they can accommodate a range of different functions.
Numerous advanced systems were integrated within the building as a means of showcasing various new renewable energy technologies.
- PV Integrated Glass: PV cells are integrated in the glass roof of the stairwell, generating energy while also providing some shade.
- PV arrays: Arrays of PV panels are mounted on the roof, where space permits.
- Heliostats: As a means of improving the quality of daylight in the building’s interiors, strategically located heliostats direct light throughout the day by tracking the sun.
- Micro Wind Turbines: Small scale wind turbines are mounted on the upper roof canopy.
- Recapturing Heat: Industrial heat generated by a local plant is captured and relayed to help warm the pool via insulated pipes that run along the back-side of the housing complex.
Although less glamorous then the active design systems, the following passive features significantly help reduce energy costs while enhancing the quality of the environment.
- Natural Air Flow: The cross-section of the building reveals how interlocking volumes organized around a major public space help encourage air-movement within the building, thus reducing AC demand. By locating the main public floor in the “basement” this further helps distribute cooler air throughout the building.
- Daylight and Shading: The expansive use of glass facing the entry court allows for a large amount of natural lighting throughout the day. Extensive computer modeling was generated to assure that sufficient shading was provided to limit direct exposure during hot months.
- Hanging Gardens: The west facade is protected by a series of trays which support multiple hanging gardens. The arrangement protects the glass and interior spaces from direct sunlight while offering a beautifully tinted green light resulting from sunlight bouncing off the vegetation.
- Recycled Materials: Where possible; tile, stone, and other recycled materials are integrated within the building’s material palette.