MVRDV unveils LAD HQ, an agriculture oasis in the heart of Shanghai

LAD HQ by MVRDV combines high and low tech sustainable solutions under one soaring technological roof.

by STIRworldPublished on : Jul 19, 2021

Planned as an agricultural oasis in Shanghai's rapidly growing urban area, Lankuaikei Agriculture Development (LAD) Headquarters in Shanghai is an 11-storey terraced office building by Dutch architecture studio, MVRDV. The building utilises a combination of highly advanced technologies and local sustainability practices. Housed beneath a swooping futuristic roof, the structure displays a symbiotic corporation between agriculture and technology. The structure is located near a lake in the heart of Lingang New Town in Shanghai. It is conceptualised as one of China's greenest and smartest buildings, in terms of sustainability.

The swooping roof is inspired by rural Chinese agriculture. | LAD HQ | MVRDV | STIRworld
The swooping roof is inspired by rural Chinese agriculture Image: Courtesy of MVRDV

The project is rectangular in plan, with a series of terraces that step down into a courtyard. The main pedestrian entry on the northern end gives the structure distinctive curvilinear form when viewed from a height. The terraces are clad in wood and covered in vegetation. This feature is also a publicly accessible route to the building's summit, where the LAD can exhibit its work and research. The ensemble is capped by a curved roof structure that follows the curvature of the stepped terraces. On the building's southern side, the design incorporates solar panels, oriented in a manner that allows for even distribution of sunlight and ventilation while also providing an optimum angle for the panels themselves. The building's façade utilises an architectural fold that is a combination of solar panels and glass. The entire facade is designed to shelter the interior from the strong summer sun while letting winter sunlight into the interiors. These walls, which run along the southern perimeter of the building, also aid in cutting out the noise.

  • The concept of the structure stems from sustainability and efficient natural ventilation. | LAD HQ | MVRDV | STIRworld
    The concept of the structure stems from sustainability and efficient natural ventilation. Image: Courtesy of MVRDV
  • The concept of the structure stems from sustainability and efficient natural ventilation. | LAD HQ | MVRDV | STIRworld
    The concept of the structure stems from sustainability and efficient natural ventilation. Image: Courtesy of MVRDV

The structure is envisioned as a ‘sustainability machine’, capable of addressing a diverse range of problems both indirectly and directly with what the firm calls ‘high-tech and low-tech solutions’. The carbon footprint of the design is estimated to be 40 per cent lower than that of an equivalent structure. This was achieved through the use of ecologically sensitive material and a life-cycle analysis of the structure. The roof and terraces contribute to effective thermal insulation while the ventilation and shading strategy helps reduce energy consumption.

The terraces also act as a rainwater collection system. The grey water collected is then used in services such as toilets, as well as a means of watering the plants on the terrace. The design is conceptualised as an indirect aid to the public education of agricultural production.

MVRDV’s mission was to empower rural revitalization and food safety in China with LAD knowledge | LAD HQ | MVRDV | STIRworld
MVRDV’s mission was to empower rural revitalization and food safety in China with LAD knowledge Image: Courtesy of MVRDV

MVRDV founding member, Jacob van Rijs, explains, “Incorporating sustainability into every surface of a building is an interesting challenge for an architect, and it’s one that as a design team we embraced whole-heartedly. This approach is not just good for the planet, it will also be appreciated by the users of the offices, who will be able to enjoy the pleasant working environment offered by the terraces.” 

Weihua Dong, President of LAD, adds, “MVRDV’s mission is to make cities and landscapes sustainable and future-proof. LAD’s mission and vision are to empower rural revitalisation and food safety in China with LAD knowledge, to explore the mysteries of nature, to protect human health with science and technology. In this cooperation project, we are looking forward to seeing an 'agricultural oasis' combining the missions of both companies.”

  • The building is conceived as a “sustainability machine” | LAD HQ | MVRDV | STIRworld
    The building is conceived as a “sustainability machine” Image: Courtesy of MVRDV
  • The building is conceived as a “sustainability machine” | LAD HQ | MVRDV | STIRworld
    The building is conceived as a “sustainability machine” Image: Courtesy of MVRDV

The structure houses 6,000 square metres of workspace on the upper levels, offering views of both the lake and the park; this space is dedicated entirely to the LAD headquarters. Another 9,000 square metres of laboratories and co-working spaces, which can be leased out, occupy the lower levels. The building incorporates an extendable auditorium and event space on the first and second floors, while the ground floor has small retail stores around its perimeter. The building has three entrances, one is a public entrance at the courtyard, and two separate entrances for the leased offices on the lower floors and one that leads directly to the LAD Headquarters. These are all connected by an "exhibition street". The building features a canteen and parking on its two basement floors. The idea of the "agricultural oasis" extends below underground as well with the use of multiple voids that allow light, fresh air, and foliage to make their presence felt below the ground as well.

On taking a closer look, it becomes evident that the building allows an even distribution of sunlight and greenery to all floors | LAD HQ | MVRDV | STIRworld
On taking a closer look, it becomes evident that the building allows an even distribution of sunlight and greenery to all floors Image: Courtesy of MVRDV

Project Details

Location: China
City: Shanghai
Design studio: MVRDV
Year: 2021
Surface: 18900 m²
Client: Lankuaikei Agriculture Development

(Text by Supreena Dash, intern at stirworld.com)

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