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A biophilic oasis amid the Shanghai cityscape

A biophilic oasis amid the Shanghai cityscape


The highly anticipated Solar Trees Marketplace, a futuristic creation by Koichi Takada Architects, has opened on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, serving as a visual reminder of a greener, more sustainable future. Situated on a site that was dense forest only a few decades ago, the project is an initiative to reintroduce green spaces to this growing city, drawing inspiration from the region’s historic past.

Australian firm Koichi Takada Architects believes that better empathy with nature will improve the quality of life in urban areas. It is with this in mind that he “planted” an architectural forest outside Shanghai, to replace the trees that existed in the region forty years ago. Made up of thirty-two sculptural trees equipped with photovoltaic cells, the Solar Trees Marketplace is an evolving retail location, symbolizing the return to nature in the metropolis in two phases. Recently completed, the first envisages that the commercial space will serve as a place of sales and exhibition for an adjacent residential complex of 155,000 m2, also designed by Koichi Takada Architects. Once Phase II is completed, residents will move into the neighborhood and this extraordinary structure will transform into a vibrant market. The designers’ goal is to create a contemporary market that draws inspiration from Chinese tradition, when these spaces were bustling community centers supporting and fostering local businesses. Keen to make it a gathering place, the architects took inspiration from the surrounding nature. The biophilic design merges with a promenade of native camphor trees, engendering an environment that establishes a strong connection with nature. Light and shadow are manipulated to ensure brightness, ventilation and… a gentle breeze. This way the need for artificial light and cooling is reduced. Photos from the site show how the organic design mimics the shapes of trees. Greenery is added to the exterior and interior areas of the market. The building embodies the principles of biophilic design and demonstrates what sustainable and progressive innovation can look like. This project is supposed to inspire more architecture merging cities with their environment.

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