Country Green Profile

Spotlight on China

Across China, the inventiveness of architects and designers is helping to create a new generation of green architecture. This ranges from the highly energy efficient Nokia corporate hq,  to the jaw-dropping Waterworld Hotel in Shanghai.

One of the most well-known is Nokia’s China Campus, designed by Arup. It serves Nokia China’s HQ as well being an R&D hub for the company and is the first newly constructed commercial building in China to have been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold Certificate by the United States Green Building Council.

It uses a glass façade, with a temperature-controlled cavity between the panes, to intelligently balance the sun’s natural heat and the building’s air conditioning system, preventing the impact of outdoor temperatures being felt inside.

Meanwhile skylights and a large communal atrium provide natural light and ventilation throughout the building, and a variety of water conservation mechanisms are in place. Together, these have resulted in a building that cuts water use by 37% and energy consumption by 20%.

Atkins are the brains behind The Waterworld in Songjiang (near Shangahi), a dramatic addition to the InterContinental chain of hotels. Located on a brownfield site – a former quarry – its design draws inspiration from the industrial heritage: the structure cascades down the rock face as a series of terraced landscaped hanging gardens with a central 90m tall vertical atrium, connecting the quarry base water level with the ground level above.

This serves a practical purpose as well as an aesthetic one: the quarry provides protection from the north winds, while the stable temperature of the lake at the bottom of the quarry helps keep hotel temperatures more stable and so reduces the demand for energy in heating or cooling. Natural light is maximised throughout and the site also uses both solar and geothermal energy sources.

The project was shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival Awards in 2009, and involved a team from Atkins’ Shanghai office working with experts at the company’s headquarters in Bristol, UK.

The NovoHouse is at the opposite end of the scale. Designed by Cartwright Pickard Architects as a practical solution to housing problems in developing countries, it is essentially a lightweight steel structure that can be used to quickly increase the availability of low-cost, permanent housing in both urban and rural areas.

The steel frame can be created as prefabricated panels nearby and then assembled easily and swiftly on location by unskilled labourers. Though the steel structure is permanent – and importantly, solid enough to withstand earthquakes and cyclones – indigenous materials will be used to clad the dwellings, such as handmade mud bricks, straw bales, timber, or bamboo, providing a boost for the local market.

The NovoHouse was first demonstrated in Hongkou in Sichuan Provence, providing replacement dwellings for two farming families whose homes were damaged in the 2008 earthquake.

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