Steven Holl Architects’ design approved for new Shanghai Cultural and Health Center

Steven Holl Architects’ design for a new Cultural and Health Center in Shanghai was approved by COFCO, who commissioned the project in Summer 2016.

The two buildings, set in a public landscape, will serve as a social condenser, bringing the community of the surrounding new housing blocks together in a public space and park along Punan canal.

“To work on Architecture for Culture and Health is a social commitment, during these challenging times” – Steven Holl

The new Shanghai Cultural and Health Center and landscape are merged by the concept of “Clouds & Time,” a reference to philosopher Karl Popper’s famous 1965 lecture on the evolutionary model of free will, “Of Clouds and Clocks.” While the landscape is organized in large clock-like circles forming a central public space, the buildings are cloud-like in their porosity and openness inviting the public in.

The Cultural Center, built out of white concrete, hovers over a transparent glass base which exposes the café, game and recreation rooms. A curved ramp, climbing gently up to the second floor creates a continuous overlooking experience. The Culture Center supports an array of social and sport functions to promote community interaction and recreation, including an exhibition area, café, library, gym, and young activity areas.

The Health Center, also made of white concrete, is shaped by the curves of the landscape, developing a strong relationship between its “cloud-like” parts and the whole of the landscape. The building will serve as a health consultation and education center, housing a pharmacy, consultation and examination rooms, a nursery area and lounges.

Both buildings have green sedum roofs merging further with the landscape when seen from above and in the surrounding apartment buildings. The quarter circle pool and fountain reflects the building’s central space and provides rainwater recycling. The buildings, which are geothermally cooled, are designed for LEED platinum certification.