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•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Sunena V MajuPublished on : Apr 11, 2023
A panda's lifestyle is envious—sleep, eat, rest—a detachment from the struggles of everyday survival and the constraints of life. Though one might not immediately assume that pandas play a significant role in nature, even at their ‘laziest’ selves they contribute to creating a balance in the ecosystem. As per the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), “Giant pandas help to keep their mountain forests healthy by spreading seeds in their droppings, which helps vegetation to thrive. Panda habitat rivals the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem in the world.”
Due to these factors, panda conservation has been an integral consideration for nations worldwide, especially in Asia, which makes for their native habitat. Among them, China has actively worked at creating bamboo corridors to link pockets of forest, developing more national parks, panda reserves, research centres and breeding centres. Building upon extensive knowledge attained from years of research and studies, China’s research centres have expanded their niche to link panda conservation with tourism, and a key contributor to this has been the architectural design of such centres. An instance of this is UDG Atelier Alpha's unveiled design for the conch-shaped Panda Tower at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Less than a year later, in the vicinity of Panda Tower, the Chengdu National Giant Panda Research and Breeding Center anchored four circular pavilions, distantly appearing to resemble uniquely emerged landforms. Named Panda Pavilions, these new additions to the campus, in a national preservation park, juggle between the perception of being land art, a pavilion or a care centre for giant pandas. Though the circular form isn’t a new take on pavilion designs or public space design, it does make the Panda Pavilions stand out in contrast to the built structures in its context. While the Panda Tower rise above the ground in a bamboo shoot-like skyscraper, the Atelier Ping Jiang | EID Arch's pavilions orient in a horizontal spread and draw inspiration from the natural landscape of Chengdu's prairies.
As the circularity of the pavilion design comes from the curvaceous features of the pandas, an inward fold in the leaner end can be seen in the form, resembling the cuddle folds in pandas. However, the pavilions remain separate from each other and are connected by an interesting circulation flow guided by the landscape design. Because of these factors and careful planning of walkways, even when the architectural intervention is of a larger scale, it appears to be a small wooden structure erected amid the natural terrain of the region, without leaving a large building footprint.
The Panda Pavilions are planned to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and act as a care centre for the giant pandas, alongside the research and breeding centres. Establishing a continuity to nature, the four ring-shaped pavilions are organised around four open-air circular courtyards. Nestled in the park’s woodland slopes, the niches of terraced outdoor spaces serve as an outdoor playground for the bears. Curved pathways and bermed viewing galleries flow amid these open spaces creating vantage points to observe pandas closely without hindering their activities. While the physical divisions exist, they appear to be comparatively soft due to the presence of trees and nature.
"The design of the panda pavilions concerned with the integration of human experience, architecture and environment. It is intended as a convergence of architecture, landscape and land art. While the project provides a pedestrian-friendly navigation experience for the visitors, it prioritises an animal-friendly environment to minimise the alienation of ecology, promoting biodiversity conservation,” shared Ping Jiang, FAIA, Design Principal.
The forms of the structure mimic the undulations of the terrain and occasionally rise and sink above the topography. Most of the activities in the pavilion are hosted in the higher crescent area, and the lower curves act as circulation links. The pavilions' rings house indoor activity spaces and living quarters, along with staff administrative areas and support spaces such as rooms for preserving and storing bamboo shoots. Additionally, the pavilions provide interactive exhibitions and educational spaces designated for panda research and preservation. The pavilion's facade design features vertical articulations of wood-grained aluminium fins, reflecting the vertical rhythms of the surrounding bamboo grove. These buildings are organised into three zones: open, semi-open and fully air-conditioned areas. Approximately 55 per cent of the building area adopts natural ventilation to lower energy consumption and carbon footprint, as a result, it contributes to creating a series of eco-friendly phases.
“Integrating a habitat for the animals and a behavioural research lab for scientists, the panda pavilions are designed to create an immersive experience of exploration and discovery for the visitors. These pavilions embrace their natural surroundings, integrating themselves with the topography of the conservation base,” share the Chinese architects.
Name: The Panda Pavilion
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Client: Chengdu Tianfu Greenway Construction Investment Co. Ltd. / Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Built Area: 12,809 Sqm
Architect: Atelier Ping Jiang I EID Arch
Design Principal: Ping Jiang, FAIA
Design Team: Michelle Bao, Sean Lu, Shuang Zhang, Xiaoxu Sun, Yunpeng Ma, Chendi He
Collaborating Local Design Institute: Chengdu Architectural Design & Research Institute
Collaborating Master Planning Consultant: Shanghai Tianhua Planning Co., Ltd. / Chapman Taylor
Landscape Consultant: Chengdu Landscape Architecture Planning & Design Institute
Curtain Wall Consultant: KTOP HK/ Chengdu Architectural Design & Research Institute
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