The recently completed Sliced Porosity Block in Chengdu has been named Mixed-Use Building of the Year in the 2013 Emirates Glass LEAF Awards.
The jury commended the “bold yet discerning design strategy coupled with a mature micro-urban plan for a new terrain of public space in the form of an urban terrace on the metropolitan scale of Rockefeller Center.” The Sliced Porosity Block, they said, “responds very well to the need to achieve new levels of green construction in Chengdu, with a complex that is heated and cooled geothermally by 400 wells.”
The Sliced Porosity Block, which opened in late 2012 in the center of Chengdu, at the intersection of the first Ring Road and Ren Ming Nam Road, forms large public plazas with a hybrid of different functions. Creating a metropolitan public space instead of object-icon skyscrapers, this three million sq ft. project takes its shape from its distribution of natural light. The required minimum sunlight exposures to the surrounding urban fabric prescribe precise geometric angles that slice the exoskeletal concrete frame of the structure. The building structure is white concrete organized in six foot high openings with earthquake diagonals as required, while the “sliced” sections are glass.
The large public space framed in the center of the block is formed into three valleys inspired by a poem of the city’s greatest poet, Du Fu (713-770), who wrote, ‘From the northeast storm-tossed to the southwest, time has left stranded in Three Valleys.’ The three plaza levels feature water gardens based on concepts of time—the Fountain of the Chinese Calendar Year, Fountain of Twelve Months, and Fountain of Thirty Days. These three ponds function as skylights to the six-story shopping precinct below.
Establishing human scale in this metropolitan rectangle is achieved through the concept of “micro urbanism,” with double-fronted shops open to the street as well as the shopping center. Three large openings are sculpted into the mass of the towers as the sites of the pavilion of history, designed by Steven Holl Architects, the Light Pavilion by Lebbeus Woods, and the Local Art Pavilion.
The Sliced Porosity Block is heated and cooled geo-thermally with 468 wells at 90 meters deep. The large ponds in the plaza harvest recycled rainwater, while the natural grasses and lily pads create a natural cooling effect. High-performance glazing, energy-efficient
equipment and the use of regional materials are among the other methods employed to reach the LEED Gold rating.