Originally conceived in 2015, Heatherwick Studio’s “1,000 Trees” project in Shanghai is starting to take shape, with new video footage revealing the progress of the soon-to-be tree-covered residential ‘mountain’.
The brief was to create a new 300,000 square metre mixed-use development located in a built-up residential area – the site is surrounded by concrete towers on three sides.
Heatherwick Studios conceived as a piece of topography, the design takes the form of two tree-covered mountains, populated by one thousand structural columns. The columns are the defining feature of the design, emerging from the building to support plants and trees.
The project is located next to Shanghai’s main art district, next to a public park. The entire development is reportedly split over two plots separated by a narrow strip of government land and incorporated several historic buildings.
According to DeisgnBoom, 1,000 Trees contains 400 terraces encouraging outdoor meetings and recreation. The development has been under construction for several years now with a targeted completion date set for 2018.
Last year, the project was presented as part of an exhibition ran by New York’s Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum: Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio.
“Their instinct was to break a huge building into smaller pieces supported by approximately 1,000 columns that they imagined as trees,” Cooper Hewitt said.
“The columns, built at different heights, appear to grow up through the building with a large planter for one or more trees atop each column, creating a vast tree-house city.”
Developed by Tian An China, the staggered outline of the development is designed to accommodate a pair of shopping centres that are also planned for the site, according to Dezeen.
“Existing planning permission for two conventional shopping mall blocks had been granted for the site, but a huge, boxy building would need to be broken into smaller pieces in order to fit in with the surroundings,” Heatherwick Studio told Dezeen.
“The integrated planting acts as a natural balancing element and the building’s edges are lowered to minimise the impact where it meets the art district and park, reducing the discernible threshold between them.”
Heatherwick has also contributed to a number of interesting projects, both complete and under development.
Google Charleston East, California
Heatherwick, along with BIG Architecture, produced designs for Google’s proposed headquarters in California.
Built to look like an elaborate tent-like structure, with rooms divided up into rectilinear pavilions that will be sheltered beneath the roof canopy, the design is a minimalist palette of selected materials like metal and glass, which provide light and cool colours that will work alongside the warmth and vibrancy of the human scale elements.
Learning Hive (The Hub), Singapore
Completed in 2015, the hub – the winning design of a competition to design a learning hub for a university – was part of a £360 million scheme to redevelop the campus of Nanyang Technological University.
An understanding of the way students approach educational facilities in the 21st century – particularly since the advent of the Internet – informed the studio’s approach.
The hub’s purpose was to foster sociability and collaboration – the students can enter the learning hub from 360 degrees into a large central space which links all the separate towers together.
‘Vessel’ Hudson Yard, Manhattan
In September 2016 Heatherwick was selected to a a new public landmark for the $25 billion Hudson Yards development in Manhattan, Manhattan’s biggest network of public spaces since Central Park.
The project’s design comprises 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs – almost 2500 individual steps and 80 landings – the standalone staircase called Vessel will encourage visitors to climb the space and experience the city from different vantage points up to 15 storeys high. When complete, this 15 storey piece of public artwork will feature continuous chain of open spaces on the West Side will run from Gansevoort Street to Times Square.
It is estimated the Vessel will cost developers $US150 million to build and it is expected to open in 2018, and will be free to members of the public.
1,000 Trees images courtesy Noah Sheldon.