This article is the first of a two-part interview with Atkins, the architects of the Songjiang resort complex.
Many thanks to Atkins for their time and thoroughness in answering the following questions.
What were the motivations of Shimao to build Songjiang? In particular, why would they choose such a unique design?
The site is within a larger context of the ‘Shimao Wonderland’ development – a themed leisure/tourist destination. The challenge was to successfully develop such a difficult ‘brownfield’ site within this scheme.
What were the key differentiators between Atkins and its main competitors that ultimately led the Shimao to choose Atkins for the Songjiang project?
Our solution successfully integrated ‘green’ elements with the concept. The combination of the ‘green roof’, the’ hanging gardens’ and the underwater aquarium elements clearly expressed the client’s plan for the development. There is an ‘organic’ quality to the design which enables it to fit into the environment so effortlessly.
My readers are very interested in green roofs. What was the motivation to use such a large green roof?
It was the best way to integrate the building into such sensitive environment. The area is known for exceptional landscape and several green hills. This building was conceived as another ‘green hill’, and is meant to be a natural addition to the local landscape. Moreover, the environmental benefits in terms of biodiversity and the benefits to the building through the acoustic and thermal insulation lead to its utilisation.
In modern history, China has seen the natural environment as both a hindrance and a great resource. Is China trying to have both growth and environmental sensitivity with this project?
Yes, this project is intended to express the traditional and respectful attitude of the Chinese to nature. In all our architectural projects around the world we are specifically drawing attention to the importance of sustainability in building and harmony with natural environment.