MVRDV revealed designs for the Lankuaikei Agriculture Development (LAD) headquarters in Shanghai, China. The 11-storey terraced office building brings together high- and low-tech sustainability strategies under a swooping technological roof.
Located near the lake at the centre of Lingang New Town, the building is conceived as an agricultural oasis in a rapidly developing urban area in the city, and is designed to be one of China’s greenest, smartest sustainable buildings.
Viewed from above, the building is rectangular in plan, yet it is given a curved shape by the series of terraces stepping down to a courtyard and the main pedestrian entrance on the north side. The terraces are clad in wood and covered in greenery. They include a publicly accessible route to the top of the building providing spaces for LAD to showcase its work and research. A curving roof structure following the shape of the terraces covers the ensemble. On the building’s southern part, this structure supports solar panels, while on the north it is permeable, filtering sunlight but allowing rain to reach the terraces below. On the outer walls, the building’s façade is a pleated arrangement of solar panels and glass, angled to protect the interior from summer sunlight while allowing winter sunlight into the interiors. On the building’s southern edge, these walls also help protect office workers from the noise of the main road.
The building is conceived as a ‘sustainability machine,’ confronting a variety of challenges indirectly and directly. Through material selection and life-cycle analysis, the embodied carbon of the design will be 40 per cent lower than a typical comparable construction. The roof structure and terraces aid in natural ventilation. This ventilation and the shading strategies reduce energy requirements. Thanks to the solar panels incorporated into the design, the building will be almost energy-neutral in operation.
The terraces collect rainwater for use in functions such as toilets and providing biodiversity and healthy working environments thanks to the greenery extending to the top floors. The design indirectly contributes to public education and agricultural production, due to its role in facilitating LAD’s mission and the exhibition spaces helping manifest their vision.
“Incorporating sustainability into every surface of a building is an interesting challenge for an architect, and it is one that as a design team we embraced whole-heartedly,” said Jacob van Rijs, MVRDV founding partner. “This approach is not just good for the planet, it will also be appreciated by the users of the offices, who will be able to enjoy the pleasant working environment offered by the terraces.”
Inside, the building contains the 6000-m2 (64,583-sf) offices of the LAD headquarters on its upper levels, where there are views to the lake in the north and the park in the south. Additionally, there is 9000 m2 (96,875 sf) of labs and co-working offices below. On the first and second floor, the building incorporates an adjustable auditorium and exhibition space, while the ground floor has small retail outlets around its perimeter, and includes three entrances—a public entrance at the courtyard, and separate entrances for the rentable offices, and LAD headquarters—connected by an ‘exhibition street.’ In its two basement levels, the building has a canteen and parking, but the agricultural oasis concept extends below ground thanks to several voids allowing light, fresh air, and greenery to make their presence felt.