China globally contributes 20% of the world’s food making it the largest contributor to the agricultural economy. Located in the largest city and global financial hub of China, MVRDV has proposed an 11 storey terraced building for the Lankuaikei Agriculture Development (LAD) Headquarters which adopts both high and low tech sustainable strategies.
MVRDV is a Rotterdam, Netherlands-based architecture firm that focuses on a collaborative, research-based design methodology that has attracted a huge creative clientele. Their projects envision the future of urban cities and landscapes. With a team of 250 architects, planners, and urbanists the firm has exhibited its works that included publications on various international platforms. They have an in-house team working in collaboration with BREEAM and LEED assessors.
The Rectangular plan has a north-facing courtyard leading towards the main entrance. The sloping roof curves toward the Westend acting as a canopy for shading. The terraces are cladded with wood and filled with greenery, with pedestrian access to different levels. The exterior walls have a series of vertical solar panels and glass that cuts off sunlight during summer and allows light in during the winter months. On the Southern side, this helps in cutting off sound from the main road.
The goal for a sustainable building is to reduce its energy consumption and increase energy generation, making it a carbon-negative or carbon-neutral building. Other factors such as building materials, project life cycle play a vital role in determining the overall utility of the building, post-construction.
Materials used for this building’s construction have a 40% lesser carbon footprint. The roof structure, terraces and shading mechanisms will reduce energy consumption loads on the ventilation systems. The solar panels (PV cells) would generate electrical energy making it an energy-neutral building. Water collected from the rainwater harvesting system would be utilised in toilets and green spaces.
The upper levels occupy 6000 square meters of offices spaces while labs and co-working spaces below occupy 9000 square meters of space. An adjustable auditorium and exhibition space extend from the 1st to the 2nd floor. The ground floor opens to retail stores, a courtyard and three entrances, two of which are connected to an exhibition space. The two basement levels house canteen and parking spaces, with rough voids allowing light, air and greenery inside.
Having a sustainable model for a building that exhibits agricultural advancement in the heart of an urban district is in itself a prospective vision. The city itself is located in the mid-peninsular region with the Yangtze River delta on the eastern tip and the East China Sea on the southern side making the land rich and fertile for irrigation. Shanghai first appeared on maps way back in 5000 BC as a small fishing village.
The city in itself is nucleated and linearly arranged along the Huangpu River with a central CBD region. The outer ring consists of residential and industrial land use with mid-density. The outermost ring has agricultural green spaces that occupy most of the sub-urban area.
With growing urbanisation, for over two decades there has been a significant loss of green cover as the city continues to expand.
“This approach is not just good for the planet, it will also be appreciated by the users of the offices, who will be able to enjoy the pleasant working environment offered by the terraces,” said Van Rijs.
By incorporating the traditional terraced farming strategy, the new office building design for LAD Headquarters aims to revive ancient farming methods alongside high-tech equipment, in an urban setting that could use some green. As a member of the design fraternity, providing green solutions to urban problems has become an integral aspect of urban space-making. MVRDV hailing from Rotterdam knows the consequences of poor urban designing and its rather disastrous effects.
In 1953, a great storm swept the coastal town creating great physical damage and psychological damage to its people, killing nearly 2000 souls. This 20-foot surge broke through all the barriers they had once thought would protect them from the sea. The ‘Delta Works Project’ was one of huge scale where humongous flood gates were installed to block the river flow and the ocean water, with 52,000 tons of concrete buried in the ground.
The new terraced office building is a start to revolutionise the agricultural sector in an urban environment. With urban migration trends observed in all developed and developing cities, employment and promising life in cities can be improved. Sustainability standards in the future would have to encompass the larger idea of making people feel at home, without compromising on land, cleanliness and consumption of natural resources.
- www.mvrdv.com. (n.d.). LAD HQ. [online] Available at: https://www.mvrdv.com/projects/469/lad-hq.
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- Goodell, J. (2017). Rotterdam has learned to cope with rising seas. Here’s how. [online] Vox. Available at: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/11/15/16651460/rotterdam-climate-change-sea-level-rise.
- World Architecture Community. (2021). MVRDV designs LAD’s R&D headquarters featuring swooping technological roof in Shanghai. [online] Available at: https://worldarchitecture.org/architecture-news/evfvz/mvrdv-designs-lad-s-r-d-headquarters-featuring-swooping-technological-roof-in-shanghai.html