The Sliced Porosity Block Wins 2013 Annual Design Review Award

The Sliced Porosity Block – Raffles City in Chengdu, China has received a 2013 Annual Design Review Award in the Move Category.

About the Sliced Porosity Block, which opened in November 2012, juror David Dowell responded to “choreography of movement through the building,” where built-in infrastructure becomes a way of organizing pedestrian flows vertically, laterally, and diagonally among the various levels of building and plaza. Juror Sheila Kennedy appreciated the podium level of the project, saying that “its landscape and circulatory infrastructure give grounding in the base,” and juror Cathy Lang Ho responded to the “interesting circulation” in what could have been simply “a superblock of office towers.”

Selected as winner in the Move Category, the Sliced Porosity Block forms large public plazas with a hybrid of different functions in the center of Chengdu. Creating a metropolitan public space instead of object-icon skyscrapers, this three million sq ft. project takes its shape from the distribution of natural light. The required minimum sunlight exposures to the surrounding urban fabric prescribe 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). 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.

Earlier this year, the Sliced Porosity Block received an AIA NY Merit Award and a 2013 Emirates Glass LEAF Award.

The 17 winners of the Annual Design Review are published in the December issue of Architect Magazine.