Bamboo is a highly regarded, reliable, fast growing, renewable building material. Though not without serious technical requirements for its use, its structural properties rival that of concrete and steel. We are attracted not only to the sustainable qualities of bamboo as a building material, but maybe more to the architectural, contextual and aesthetic implications of its use. Bamboo imparts a definite ‘green’ feel by its appearance.
We chose a site in Shenzhen’s Qianhai district, which is home to numerous cutting edge tech companies for a conceptual design exercise. Given the glitz of that environment, a decidedly earth friendly, low-tech green mega structure would be a reminder for the tech companies of the world to redouble their efforts to become completely sustainable. The Qianhai district will also allow for a test of what this architecture would be like in a generic Chinese urban street scape.
The resulting stark contrast between our concept and almost any urban context immediately humanizes the act of building, and maintains groundedness not only to the environment, but to our culture and traditions as well. Such is the power of a material which keeps its connection to nature, regardless of its use.
Sensitivity to context in architectural sense as practiced today seems obsolete. The significance of connectedness to earth, tradition and culture, through the way we built using obviously natural materials, appears of much higher value, and will create the expectation for even greater emphasis on livability, and sensible exterior and interior spaces for whatever use. Architects will have to deal with these raised expectations, as their buildings will no longer be considered as singular expressions, but rather part of a wholistic approach to the way we live.
To keep this conceptual test as general as possible, we chose a fairly standard Chinese building program: two towers on a podium. The towers are designed for residential, office and hotel use; the podium a 4 story retail complex. All spaces have generous balconies, with a floor depth allowing for meaningful exterior private landscapes.