New York-based Architect Designs Bio-diverse Tower

International Architect Kevin Kennon has designed a new 90,000-square-meter mixed-use commercial building for Eco-City, Tianjin, China, a joint development between China and Singapore.  This 200-meter tall office tower and luxury shopping center, developed by Tianjin Real Estate Development & Management Group LTD, with Beijing Victory Star Executive Architects, utilizes advanced Biophilic design technologies and strategies to reconnect people with nature. The design of Tian Fang tower incorporates algorithms that mimic the form and growth of bamboo forests.

Tian Fang generates an estimated 20 percent of its clean energy on site—through a combination of hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels, and wind turbines while simultaneously conserving nearly 20 percent of the energy used.  Tian Fang's dependence on the grid is approximately 60 percent that of a similar fully occupied mixed-use tower. Once completed in early 2013, Tian Fang will be one of the most advanced sustainable commercial buildings in China.

The project is distinctive for its innovative design strategies, with special attention paid to the building's relationship to its site, day lighting, and program. Solar and wind studies influenced the site orientation and building massing, with approximately 50 atriums allowing green space and natural light to infiltrate the building.  The principal strategy behind this advanced Biophilic design is to utilize natural convection to heat and cool the building with filtered fresh air.  

The design of Tian Fang is based on a 14x14 meter square module.  A typical office building has four corners, but Tian Fang has 18, providing prime real estate in corner offices.  The layout of the luxury retail—with fine international and Chinese cuisine on the top floor—also follows this module and is composed of 17 14x14 meter volumes which rise to become a series of distinctive angled roofs shaped at various orientations to the sun providing solar power.  In between these roof forms are skylights which allow daylight to activate shopping. The effect is that the tower and the base are one.

"This project is the culmination of years of thinking about tall building design combining environmental strategies and adaptive innovation to create signature architecture," Kennon said. "Considering pollution is a foremost challenge in this rapidly industrialized nation, the goal of this particular project is to act as a catalyst for green design in China."

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