Ragged Facades: 1000 Trees in Shanghai

    Twenty minutes from Shanghai's city center, an overgrown mountain appears to rise from the ground in the arts district of Moganshan - and another will follow. The building structure, developed by one of Asia's most requested designers, Thomas Heatherwick, is currently finishing the first phase of construction.

    Heatherwick, who is based in London with his design practice Heatherwick Studios, has already attracted attention with spectacular buildings in London, Singapore and New York. His signature style: He repeatedly places plants at the center of his designs, showing how nature and architecture can merge. His latest building, the environmental project "1000 Trees in Shanghai," is now the Briton's next coup. The silhouette, modeled on a craggy mountain, provides space for a total of 25,000 different individual plants, including shrubs, perennials and climbing plants. In order to be able to integrate this botanical diversity into the building's facade, the building's supporting columns were visibly moved to the outside and their tops were designed as a kind of planter. The facade as well as the exterior terraces made of gray and green granite are also reminiscent of natural rock. This creates the illusion of overgrown mountainsides in the middle of downtown Shanghai. Building materials and plants seem to blur together. The side of the building facing the street, on the other hand, has a completely different appearance. It is almost flat and decorated with numerous colorful graffiti by local artists - fitting for the building's location, Shanghai's art district.

    Meanwhile, the variety of plants not only characterizes the appearance of the unusual mixed-use building, but also serves as an air filter against the smog problem in Shanghai's inner city. 15 million of the 23 million residents of China's metropolis live in the city center and barely come into contact with nature in their daily lives. The construction project of 1,000 trees is a response to their needs and aims to integrate recreational areas modeled on nature into the architecture of a metropolis and make them accessible to its people. In addition, a public waterfront and a 12,000-square-meter park with a jogging track are designed to improve the quality of life in the city center.

    The nearly 15-hectare building complex will house various stores, restaurants, offices and galleries. The first phase of the project is still scheduled to open in 2020, while construction of the second hill is still pending and will also include a public waterfront along Suzhou Creek and a park. A bridge and tunnel will connect the two greened mountains.