by Pallavi MehraSep 19, 2022
Proposed as a natural haven among the skyscrapers of the Chinese metropolis of Nanjing, Oasis Towers designed by MVRDV is a green mark in the face of rapid urban developments. In Jiangbei New Area's Financial District, two 150 m tall towers rest on the edges of the plot and encompass a green landscape between them. Winning the competition to build on the Jiangbei New Area, the architectural firm proposed a mixed-use development for a residential and commercial complex spanning across the two plots. Appearing as a green fissure in its form and a contoured landscape design in plan, the sunken plaza and high-rise towers of the Oasis Towers' are the studio's latest foray in green architecture.
The residential functions are placed in the 40-storey towers which face each other and are located on the north and south corners of the plot. Enclosing the site is a podium of three-four storeys, the green oasis traverse the natural environment inward while separating it from the surrounding neighbourhood. Talking about the design, the founding partner of MVRDV, Winy Maas shares, "The contemporary architecture of Nanjing takes its inspiration from nature in form and appearance. With Oasis Towers we wanted to push this trend to the max – not only emulating nature with curving, stratified 'cliffs', but also to literally incorporate nature into the design with the greenery and by tapping into natural processes."
The green oasis, which is the heart of the design, is also a landscape feature for the cascading terraces of the apartments, attached to it. In addition to being a significant element of the design, the oasis hosts retail spaces from the ground to the third floor. Accommodating an ample number of trees and greenery, the open park provides cooling, enriches biodiversity and creates a walkable environment that connects the two plots across the central road. The architects add, “At the very centre of the public space, the landscape steps down below ground level to connect beneath the road, providing a convenient crossing point and allowing access to the metro station beneath the site.”
Though the project aims to stand out amid the dense skyscrapers of the metropolis, the tower architecture extends familiar characteristics to nearby skyscrapers through its facade design. The exterior facade that faces the neighbouring building has a formal grid-like facade while the one facing inwards towards the green oasis consists of sensuous curves that then become balconies, terraces, and rooftops. Utilising the prevailing wind currents, the towers are placed and oriented to maximise natural ventilation. "The deep balconies are staggered to provide plenty of natural light, while reducing solar gain in the summer, along with the carefully placed trees that provide extra shade in the warmer months," the architects add.
Though the irregular cascading terraces may appear to be highly variable, the architects mention that the design is regularised and efficient in planning. While following almost identical plans for a large section of the tower, the layers of organic architecture are narrowed into the curving balcony. Extending the presence of the green oasis to the higher floors, planters are introduced to separate neighbouring balconies.
While creating a dialogue between nature and the built form, the architecture dives into integrating the idyllic green environments to establish different sustainability measures. The non-accessible rooftops in the oasis are occupied by dense greenery and plants that help in enriching the local biodiversity. In addition to it, while adopting the technique of phytoremediation, the roofs have two 500 sqm reed beds that naturally filter and clean water as part of the building's grey water recycling system. Furthermore, the facades of the small pavilions on the podium are wrapped in recycled bamboo. Within Jiangbei, China's plan to be a demonstration area for the new type of urbanisation, MVRDV's Oasis Towers seems to be an architectural addition engrossing the future developments of the area.
Name: Oasis Towers
Location: Nanjing, China
Client: Nanjing Jiangbei New District Financial Center Development Co, Ltd
Area: 166000 sq.m.
Founding Partner in charge: Winy Maas
Partner: Wenchian Shi
Design Team: Kyo Suk Lee, Sredej Bunnag, Shanshan Wu, Daehee Suk, Americo Iannozzone, Haochen Yang, Echo Zhai, Albert Parfonov, Jiani You, Evan O'Sullivan
Environmental Advisors: Peter Mensinga, Arjen Ketting
Structural engineering & MEP: TJAD