China: Project Feature: OōEli Art Park, Hangzhou

OōEli is an iconic integrative art park covering about 230,000 square meters located in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. Comprehensive master plan development by the prestigious Pulitzer Prize winner, Renzo Piano with JNBY and GOA features offices, art museums, art centers, show fields, design hotels, and art commerce. GOA acted as the executive designer of the entire park, which has provided OōEli a wide-ranging and organized technical impetus for more than seven years.

Highlights on Design and Concept

Space and communication are the core values for the conceptualization of OōEli, an oasis-like “city parlor” with an artistic perspective where simultaneous activities can take place. Originally, Renzo Piano envisioned this development as an apple with a soft and rich core, wrapped in a solid interface, but transitioned a plan to bring in more air and sunlight to the square. This was done by reducing the original 11 floors to 9 floors, ensuring adequate light in every corner of the setback terraces on the 7th and 8th floors.

On the path, architects designed eight transfer elevators in four sites around the courtyard. People must first reach the ground floor from the underground garage and then go through the courtyard to enter the office building. When the glass elevator car rises slowly above ground, people are welcomed by the natural environment of the central square, the accent piece of the whole park. Depending on seasons, OōEli will invite diversified artists to showcase sound art in the lift car every year to increase visitor traffic.

Unveiling Green Core

OōEli takes pride in its “Green Core”, a three-dimensional structure, which is presented from bottom to top at diverse elevations: sunken courtyard, ground vegetation, reflecting pool, external flower pot on the terrace, and tea garden on the roof. Paul Kephart, an American plant ecology expert, designed the Plant Landscape area. The green landscape extends from the underground to the ground and climbs up along the building’s exterior to the roof. As the fifth facade, the roof is banked with green tea trees, a prominent tree species in Hangzhou. The operation team selected two tea selections for the tea garden – Longjing No. 43 and Anji White Tea, which both have strong adaptability and can grow both in nature and cities.



Designer’s Tips on Sustainability by Interior Architect Natasha Usher 

Natasha Usher, founder and director of NUDE design, has designed for some of the leading companies in both hospitality and real estate industries in Asia. Hong Kong born, award-winning interior architect Natasha shares her thoughts on how she incorporates sustainability into her design projects.

“When building a house from the ground up, we would recommend waste management solutions to review recycling waste water, air circulation management, solar powered equipment and efficient cooling and heating systems” shares Natasha. It can be a challenge to source solely recycled end products as they can be costly or limited in selection. Using natural materials generally that have a lower carbon footprint, and that produce lower toxicity levels such as cotton, linen, hemp, recycled decorative glass, ceramic or clay tiles and genuine leather are best.

When it comes to energy management, Natasha suggests investing in double or triple glazed windows in homes and buildings to maintain a constant temperature that reduces energy waste. Investing in good air-conditioners with energy saving functions, installing ceiling fans for air circulation, and using oil radiators to heat spaces can help to provide as simple and achievable solution. For lighting, she always uses LED option bulbs that emit low heat with longer life span. She also avoids built-in LED light fixtures that need to be thrown out after the bulb dies to reduce waste as bulbs can also be recycled.

Waste management should be conscientiously applied when it comes to sustainability, so for most projects, we apply designs methodically to reduce waste. When using natural materials, like natural stone or prefabricated material sizes, her team uses the least wasteful size and pattern ratios. 

“When possible, I like to repurpose vintage furniture or use antiques that have historic or sentimental value to my clients. There are always opportunities to be more pro-active both professionally and personally to also influence others. We have also had projects that when undergoing soft renovations, we retain the architectural lighting fixtures if they are not damaged and generic in style to save waste and unnecessary cost,” Natasha adds.

Natasha is a passionate advocate for the environment and sustainability. She incorporates these practices into her everyday lifestyle and adopts these principles in her food choices, clothing materials and general consumer goods. “I strongly believe we are beyond the point of personal choices on this subject, we need urgent government mandates to enforce sustainable and environmental preservation. COVID is a bleak reminder of how the community as a whole affects us in a global level and it’s a realistic catastrophe if we don’t actively help preserve the environment we all depend on.” Natasha Usher concludes. 

Photo Credits: Lusher Photography

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