A competition for a community plan in China recently declared a winning entry entitled "The Tree of Light." The local government of Miyi County was looking for a way to create a landmark body of architecture to serve as a foundation for further development in the area. From the banks of the Anning River rises a comprehensive master plan addressing needs for education, environmental restoration, and community identity.
What makes this project unique is not only the blend of programmatic requirements, but the direct connection to the regional landscape. Designed by an expert team of architects at Studio SHIFT and landscape architects at SWA Group, the plan is a true collaboration of disciplines that, while is becoming more popular, is still under appreciated. For example:
Just as Miyi had recently built a hydroelectric plant and dam to harness the natural energy producing potential of the area, the designers were intent on utilizing natural means of filtration to produce clean water. This new amenity takes the form of a series of lakes, wetlands and waterways which lend form to the new districts in the master plan. — source
The interaction of the landscape and built structure have a meaningful dialogue, one that speaks a coherent language that anyone can understand. This dynamic relationship will hopefully create a feeling of human scale, despite the towers' height at nearly fourteen stories.
Furthermore, the proposal includes a mix of performance/exhibition venues, dining, entertainment, and retail spaces. As requested, it will serve as a educational and artistic hot spot for the region, but more importantly, this plan is creating a destination. What makes a great destination? A clean, attractive place with plenty of things to do, see, and buy.
However, when developing a plan of this magnitude, a balance of entertainment and commerce plays a crucial role in the success of the project. Here, the ground floor retail corridor is like a crew of supporting actors, it helps bring out the best in the main characters. The warm climate and ample sunshine encouraged the designers to leave half the building exposed, allowing for gardens, outdoor dining, and spectacular observation decks. The buildings facade acts like a skeleton on which to mount a shimmering material to mimic the waters below, but will also be mounted with solar panels where appropriate.
Overall, the Tree of Light hopes to become an icon for the region by defining character, space, and branding itself as a sustainably community. Much like the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower have become logos tied to their nations, the Tree of Light is sure to become a recognizable icon for China and Miyi County.
Rendering credits: Studio Shift & SWA.