Heatherwick’s Shanghai design inspired by tree-topped mountains

by Kim Megson | 23 Dec 2015

Heatherwick Studio has designed a vast mountain-inspired mixed-use development to be located next to Shanghai’s arts district.

The British firm – led by designer Thomas Heatherwick – is creating a verdant 300,000sq m (3.2 sq ft) complex of buildings, with approximately 1,000 structural columns supporting plants and trees.

“The design has been conceived not as a building but as a piece of topography, taking the form of two tree-covered mountains,” the studio said in a statement.

The development will be located in the Moganshan district, within an existing residential area next to a public park and a series of historic buildings. It will be closely linked to the arts hub along 50 Moganshan Road, where around 100 artists operate studios open to the public.

Heatherwick Studio was approached by the unidentified developer – which owns a larger 15-hectare site in the area – after successfully designing the UK Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. Their installation – a 10m (32.8ft) high box of protruding silvery hairs called Seed Cathedral – explored the relationships between cities and nature and the significance of plants to human life.

The designers have also combined nature and the built environment with their concepts for London’s Garden Bridge, New York’s Pier55 and Abu Dhabi’s Al Fayah Park.

The Shanghai project is being showcased at an exhibition called Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, which will run until 3 January, 2016.

Further details about the development have yet to be revealed.

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Heatherwick Studio has designed a vast mountain-inspired mixed-use development to be located next to Shanghai’s arts district. The British firm – led by designer Thomas Heatherwick – is creating a verdant 300,000sq m (3.2 sq ft) complex of buildings, with approximately 1,000 structural columns supporting plants and trees. “The design has been conceived not as a building but as a piece of topography, taking the form of two tree-covered mountains,”
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Around 1,000 structural columns will support plants and trees
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