New mixed-use project works with the climate, not against it

Construction is underway on Shenzhen Terraces, a mixed-use project in the centre of the university neighbourhood in Shenzhen’s Longgang District. 

Image: Lightstudio
Image: Lightstudio

Designed by MVRDV with sustainability as a focus, the project’s green outdoor spaces mix together with a wide variety of activities – including a theatre, a library, a museum, a conference centre and retail – to make the site a hub for meeting, learning, leisure, culture and relaxation. 

The stacked horizontal terraces contrast to the surrounding high-rise towers, but also perform an ecological function: overhangs provide shade and the round shape promotes wind flow and natural ventilation. The abundance of greenery, pedestrian paths and water features make the project one of the more sustainable in Shenzhen.  

The abundant planting and water features reduce the local temperature and provide habitat for urban wildlife, while gardens and rainwater collection generate food and water resources.

An important ambition for the project was to merge the building with the landscape and make the project as sustainable as possible. The landscaping, developed in collaboration with Openfabric, adds patches of jungle-like greenery and public programming between pedestrian routes. These patches host planting that imitates the sub-tropical natural forests of the region, mixed alongside features such as grassy hills, public art, reflective pools and activity zones for climbing or table tennis. The roofs are also part of this landscape, used not only for photovoltaic panels and rainwater collection but also large, accessible green lawns.       

“In cities like Shenzhen, it is essential to think carefully about how public space and the natural landscape can be integrated into a dense city. Cool spaces, sheltered from the weather, create an escape from air-conditioned interiors”, says MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas. 

“Shenzhen Terraces can be seen as a three-dimensional park that makes it possible for students to walk outside to their lectures in the warm weather instead of being locked inside. In this project we are not working against the climate, but with the climate. The naturally ventilated terraces, protected from the sun by overhangs, will soon become fantastic hangout spots for people to meet and study.”

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