Horizontal Skycraper-Vanke Center
The Horizontal Skyscraper, which will be the Shenzhen headquarters of property developer China Vanke, is as long as the Empire State Building is tall. Instead of creating a towering structure that takes its inhabitants further away from their natural surroundings, Steven Holl Architects sought to keep them as close to the ground as possible. The inhabitants can also enjoy a multitude of perspectives on the tropical garden growing under the structure as well as the surrounding mountains, lake and ocean.
The building, which is supporte by only eight large columns, is 35 meters tall with a total area of 120,445 square meters.
While it may seem precariously balanced, the Horizontal Skyscraper is wind-, rain-, and tsunami-proof. The structure also incorporates environmentally friendly elements in its design, including rooftop solar panels, cooling ponds fed by a grey water system, and local materials such as bamboo. It is hoped that this will become the second building in China to receive the prestigious LEED platinum rating.
The Sun and the Moon Altar micro-row buildings
Despite China’s reputation for creating large quantities of harmful pollutants by using coal for energy, the country is also home to the world’s largest solar-powered office building. The Sun and Moon Altar micro-row buildings in Dezhou, Shandong province, get 95% of their energy from alternative energy sources, including a 5000 sq m solar panel array on the roof, and actually produces more energy than it needs. The fa?ade, which can be described as inelegant at best, is based on the traditional shape of the sun-dial and Chinese characters for "sun" and "moon."
Using 30% less energy than the national energy-saving standard, the US$22 billion building was constructed in time for Dezhou to win the bid to host the world’s fourth Solar City Congress from September 16-19. The self-titled "World Solar City" currently employs more than 800,000 people in the solar industry; Greenpeace expects that number to reach 1.5 million by 2020.
Guangzhou International Finance Center
One of the 10 tallest buildings in the world at 432 meters tall and with 103 floors, the Guangzhou International Finance Center dwarfs every other building in the city’s skyline. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre, it has been constructed to withstand the harsh winds and rains of Guangzhou’s tropical clime. It will house office space, a hotel (the Four Seasons) and an observation deck. Construction started in 2005 and finished this year in time for the 2010 Asia Games. A twin tower is also allegedly in the works.
A second structure recently birthed in China by Steven Holl Architects (along with the Horizontal Skyscraper in Shenzhen), Beijing’s Linked Hybrid is a futuristic fusion of commercial and residential units in an innovative space. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) named the complex the "CTBUH 2009 Best Tall Building Overall."
Linked Hybrid comprises eight towers linked by eight public sky bridges. The building is a porous structure, encouraging movement between the interior and exterior. The towers are connected to one another, rather than separate, allowing residents greater freedom of movement and more opportunities for chance encounters in any one of many public spaces. These spaces include commercial areas, a school, a movie theater, swimming pools and a tea house.
The structure is also environmentally friendly, utilizing water from geothermal wells which is then recycled, decreasing water usage by 41%. It was also built in accordance with the principles of feng shui.
Wide angle: Property markets
The debate over whether there is or is not a bubble in commercial real estate is getting increasingly schizoid in nature. Those that remain optimistic regarding commercial real estate argue that residential buyers are inherently more speculative than commercial investors. On the other hand, demand for commercial space rests on an economic, not demographic, bedrock. In 2008, China had over 180 million sq m of empty offices. Leasing agents have their work cut out.