Ole Scheeren reveals design for vast Vietnam 'Sky Forest' towers open to the public

Situated on a central peninsula of the Saigon River, the project will generate an integrative environment that fuses natural landscape with the rapidly growing metropolis
– Ole Scheeren

German architect Ole Scheeren is bringing leisure and landscape design to the skies of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with an ambitious new development formed of three high-rise towers.

Described as “a symbiotic vision of nature and living within the space of the city”, the Empire City scheme features apartments, offices and a hotel, in addition to large swathes of public space, from the ground to rooftop.

The main structure, called Empire 88 Tower in reference to the number of floors, will reach a height of 333m (1,092ft) – making it one of Vietnam's tallest buildings – and is due to be topped by a large public observation deck, called 'Cloud Space'.

In addition to this, a series of landscaped public platforms will be built across several levels three-quarters of the way up the tower, cantilevering in manifold directions around its centre to form a ‘Sky Forest’. Densely populated with a variety of local plant species and water features, the multi-level experience is designed to evoke Vietnam’s tropical jungles, and will offer panoramic views of the city and the nearby Saigon River.

Two other high-rises will stand either side of Empire 88 Tower, with the first five floors of the trio joined together to create a large scale terraced public space with restaurants and commercial facilities. This will form a “mountain-shaped, garden-like podium that will echo Vietnam’s mesmerising landscape, with its poetic soft hills and cultivated terraced rice fields, and anchor the tower ensemble to the ground.”

In a statement, Scheeren said: “Situated on a central peninsula of the Saigon River, the project will generate an integrative environment that fuses natural landscape with the rapidly growing metropolis. As a result, new qualities of urban living will emerge in this mixed-use environment of work, life, culture, entertainment and public enjoyment.

“An extensive network of public activities will be threaded throughout the modulated structure, connecting commercial areas with recreational environments.”

The project is being developed by Empire City Limited Liability Company, a multi-national joint venture of real estate firms from Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Scheeren is well-known for his sculptural towers in Asia, including MahaNakhon, Bangkok's tallest skyscraper; The Interlace residential development in Singapore, winner of World Building of the Year in 2015; and the Guardian Art Center near the Forbidden City in Beijing, which is nearing completion. He was also previously a partner at OMA, working alongside Rem Koolhaas on projects such as Beijing’s CCTV Headquarters.

He has recently turned his attentions back to Europe, announcing in September his plans to convert an office tower in Frankfurt into high-end apartments.

Ole Scheeren  Vietnam  Empire City  Ho Cho Minh City  architecture 
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