Hangzhou 2016 – LAVA, a.k.a. Laboratory of Visionary Architecture, was commissioned by Shimao to masterplan a mixed-use development in Hangzhou, China. The Zheijang Gate Towers project features five buildings housing offices, residential, and retail and two twin skyscrapers with finned patterns on their facades. According to The Guardian, the buildings in the project might resemble WTC – World Trade Center towers in New York. But the firm dismisses any reference saying that the “client wanted to have a simple, commercially viable building with a simple silhouette”.
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“The high-rise towers are an interpretation of the Chinese characters meaning ‘gate’ or entrance to a city” says Tobias Wallisser, director of LAVA. “The development is located at a major interchange into the city so we wanted to create an iconic gateway to Hangzhou. Utilising our extensive view studies we positioned the tower ensemble so it is recognisable as a twin structure, a gate, from both near and far”.
Comments on the project recalled a similarity the New York Twin Towers destroyed in 2011. But the studio underlined that World Trade Center copy was never part of Lava’s Hangzhou design brief or specifically mentioned as a marker point.
“Well, I did live in New York when I studied there, and of course the World Trade Center was an iconic structure” says Tobias Wallisser to the Guardian. “But put any two buildings together and they will probably resemble the World Trade Center”.
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LAVA articulated the façade of the towers as two groups of long vertical fins wrapped around the buildings. Fluid lines create zones within the tower elevations, whilst different colours of glass and varying depths of vertical fin elements generate refracted light effects animating the façade.
“The towers combine fluid, curvaceous shapes with hard edges. The simple outer shape and the special articulation across both towers, the fluid lines, create different appearances from alternative perspectives” adds Wallisser.
A third 90m tall building and two pavilions are placed around the central public space. The volume of the third tower structure was designed for flexible use for offices or housing, and optimises the ration of facade surface and volume contained. A large roof garden is oriented in the direction of a future development to the south of the towers.
A canopy connects the two towers at the base, and a fluid landscape connects all five buildings, creating seamless pedestrian movement. The car- free centre can be experienced as a green park sheltered from the surrounding ring roads. At ground level all structures provide retail space. The roofs of the pavilions are articulated as a continuation of the landscape areas.
All images: courtesy by LAVA, Laboratory of Visionary Architecture.
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