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Clocks and clouds inspire Steven Holl's Shanghai culture and health centre

To work on architecture for culture and health is a social commitment during these challenging times
– Steven Holl

Steven Holl Architects' cloud-inspired design for a Cultural and Health Center in Shanghai has been given the green light.

The complex will be formed of two separate buildings set in a public landscape, which will cater for the community of the surrounding new housing blocks by providing them a place to come together.

The design concept is described by the studio as merging “clouds and time,” in reference to philosopher Karl Popper’s 1965 lecture on the evolutionary model of free will, which was titled “Of Clouds and Clocks.”

The outdoor landscape is organised in large clock-like circles forming a central public space. A quarter circle pool and fountain furthers this impression, and provides rainwater recycling for the complex.

In contrast, the studio described the buildings as “cloud-like in their porosity and openness” in order to invite the public in.

The Cultural Center, built out of white concrete, hovers over a transparent glass base which reveals the café, game and recreation rooms inside. A curved ramp ascends to the second floor to create a continuous overlooking experience.

The building will host a number of social and sport functions to promote community interaction and recreation, including an exhibition area, library, gym, and young activity areas.

The Health Center, also made of white concrete, is shaped by the curves of the landscape. It will serve as a health consultation and education centre for the neighbourhood.

Both buildings have green sedum roofs merging with the landscape when seen from above. The buildings, which are geothermally cooled, are designed for LEED platinum certification.

Explaining why the firm have taken on the project, founder Steven Holl said: “To work on architecture for Culture and Health is a social commitment during these challenging times”.

His studio have worked on several social and cultural projects, including a library for the Miracle for Africa Foundation in Malawi, an extension for the Mumbai City Museum and a Visual Arts Building for aspiring artists in Iowa.

Steven Holl  Shanghai  architecture  design  Cultural and Health Center  Karl Popper  Of Clocks and Clouds 
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Steven Holl Architects' cloud-inspired design for a Cultural and Health Center in Shanghai has been given the green light. The complex will be formed of two separate buildings set in a public landscape, which will cater for the community of the surrounding new housing blocks by providing them a place to come together. The design concept is described by the studio as merging “clouds and time,” in reference to philosopher
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The design concept is described by the studio as merging 'clouds and time,' in reference to philosopher Karl Popper’s 1965 lecture on the evolutionary model of free will / Steven Holl Architects
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