MVRDV designs a haven of greenery among the skyscrapers

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MVRDV has thrilled and annoyed us for years, and I haven’t quite decided on the adjective of choice for its new competition-winning design for “Nature-Inspired Oasis Towers” in Nanjing, China. The Netherlands-based architecture firm describes it as a green landscape nestled between two 150-meter-tall towers, promising that the building will provide refuge for residents in a dense and rapidly developing part of the city.

MVRDV


It spans two blocks at the edge of a new financial district filled with boring box-like buildings, so “the design has a formal, gridded facade on the exterior faces of the perimeter block” and the ” outer skin gives way to the flowing curves of balconies, terraces, roofs and small pavilions clad in recycled bamboo facades.” Two 40-storey towers wrap around the heart of the project, as described in the press release:

MVRDV


“Dotted with trees and other greenery, the oasis forms a verdant landscape on the building’s cascading terraces, a lush environment for shopping on the building’s commercial floors from the ground floor to the third floor. This Park-like space has several functions: it provides cooling and biodiversity, the canopy provides privacy by shielding residents on upper floors from shoppers below, and it creates a walkable environment that connects the two plots across the central road At the very center of the public space, the landscape descends below ground level to connect under the road, providing a convenient crossing point and allowing access to the metro station below the site.

MVRDV


“Nanjing’s contemporary architecture is inspired by nature in its form and appearance,” said Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. but also to literally incorporate nature into the design with greenery and tapping into natural processes.

MVRDV


Other sustainability strategies: “The oasis roofs that are not accessible are densely planted with a variety of species that help maximize biodiversity. These non-accessible roofs also include two 500 square meter reedbeds that filter and clean water naturally as part of the building’s gray water recycling system.”

MVRDV


“The positioning of the towers takes advantage of the prevailing westerly winds to maximize natural ventilation. additional shade in the hottest month A water source heat pump uses the adjacent river to reduce energy consumption.

MVRDV


So, back to the original question: is it exciting or annoying? I’m leaning towards the latter.

From ground level in this view, it looks like every other retail podium in China, with trees on top. But does sticking trees on a 40-story concrete building make it green and sustainable? It’s an argument that has lasted since the vertical forest of Stefano Boeri; I once called it “greenwrapping” – or greenwashing by wrapping a building in trees and green roofs, but without considering the amount of concrete and engineering required to hold them in place and the amount of labor necessary to keep them in the air.

But compared to all the boring buildings that surround this complex, it might be justifiable. I looked at the Vertical Forest in Milan and came to this conclusion: “Because they are not just balconies, but a different way of seeing nature in the city. I was wrong about that.”

MVRDV


Looking at the site plan, it is impossible to tell where the ground ends and where the building begins due to earthworks and stratification. If we want to have concrete towers, maybe this is a better way to go. Maybe I need another adjective; it’s neither totally aggravating nor exciting.

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