Steven Holl Architects’ Sliced Porosity Block Tops Out

The Sliced Porosity Block—the Raffles City development designed by Steven Holl Architects in Chengdu—celebrated its topping out today at 123 meters. Located just south of the intersection of the First Ring Road and Ren Min Nan Road, the 3 million square feet mixed-use complex consists of five towers with offices, apartments, retail, a hotel, cafes, and restaurants.

The project’s sun sliced geometry results from careful study of daylight exposures to the surrounding urban fabric. Porous and inviting from every side, five vertical entrances cut through a layer of micro-urban shopping before leading to the elevated public ‘Three Valley’ plaza. A great urban terrace on the scale of Rockefeller Center, this multi-level plaza in the center of the complex is sculpted by stone steps, ramps, trees, and ponds. Here the public space parallax of overlapping geometries is supercharged by color that glows from the shops positioned underneath the plaza.

The three generous ponds on the plaza are inspired by a poem by the Chengdu poet Du Fu (713-770), ‘From the northeast storm-tossed to the southwest, time has left stranded in Three Valleys.’ These three ponds function as skylights to the six-story shopping precinct below. Residing on voids in the facades are pavilions designed by Steven Holl and Lebbeus Woods.

The Sliced Porosity Block is heated and cooled geo-thermally and 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.

Steven Holl states, “With great enthusiasm we celebrate the topping out of our Sliced Porosity Block, which will be a wonderful contribution to the metropolis of Chengdu. The new public space framed by these skyscrapers is environmentally state of the art, with a poetic form shaped by sunlight. The skyline of Chengdu will have a new brilliant presence that marks the offering of a place of gathering and joy. With deepest thanks we also celebrate all those whose work on this project brings it into reality.”

The building is scheduled for completion in late 2012.