by Meghna MehtaDec 09, 2019
Conceptualised by Heatherwick Studio for Chinese developer Tian An China, 1000 Trees is being designed as a piece of topography that emerges from the ground symbolising the building as a mountain covered with trees.
Situated on a 15-acre site in China’s biggest city Shanghai, the project lies next to the M50 arts district and is in close proximity to a public park. Split over two plots and connected by a narrow strip of land allocated to the government, the complex is located in a residential area only 20 minutes away from central Shanghai. The designers at the Heatherwick Studio envision the building as a fragmented collage of smaller blocks that would merge with the urban fabric and compliment the surroundings.
The staggered structure, populated by hundreds of columns, is a mixed-use development project spanning over 300,000 sqm that contains offices, eateries, event venues and galleries.
The most eminent feature of the project, after which it is also named, are the columns across the building that hold the tree plantations. The columns form not only an integral part of the structural system but also emerge at the top of the building as large planters, each holding a handful of trees. The trees, therefore, seem as if naturally extending out of the columns with varied pot sizes.
As the design of the columns underwent intense research and brainstorming, every detail was given adequate attention until the final finish. Each planter has been completed with a handmade-like finish designed to achieve a rich and interesting texture, providing an architectural identity to the space.
Collectively, the planters contain approximately 25,000 individual plants and 46 different plant species including shrubs, perennials, climbers. Each planter has a unique combination of plants sourced from Shanghai's Chongming Island, a fertile strip of land within the Yangtze river delta, and more than half of them are evergreen to ensure a lush green building throughout the year.
Another unique aspect of the 1000 Trees project is its southern façade that consists of an art wall lined with billboards and street art. Developed in collaboration with local and international graffiti artists, it honours graffiti artists from all across the world, including those who used to paint there. Contrary to the pixelated massing of the design, this façade is flat and appears as if the mountain emerging from the ground has been sliced open like a section of an architectural drawing.
Upon completion, the structure will house 10 levels of mixed-use facilities with several large atriums letting natural light deep into its core. Enveloped by multiple outdoor terraces, 1000 Trees hopes to serve not only as a visual delight but also provide some breathing space to the highly congested area it is situated in.
The second phase of the project aims to be even more diversified in its scale and will be connected to the first mountain by an enclosed link bridge, tunnel and ground floor drop-off. The next stage of development also seeks to ensure additional landscaping including a 900-metre-long stretch of riverside public space and a 12,000 sqm landscape park that will include a jogging path, sculpture garden and series of outdoor event spaces.
The project is set to be completed in 2020.