SkyBridge HQ is located at Hongqiao airport hub area in Shanghai and it was formerly developed as Sky Soho project designed by Zaha Hadid Architect. After Hong Kong GAW investment company has bought the whole project the new owner determined to upgrade landscape area to attract new and more shop tenants for the ground and basement floor commertial units. The original sunken plaza landscape was only hard pavement and lack of the green. Visitors or office workers were not able to take a rest or seat anywhere in the plaza therefore very less people walk nor stay at the outdoor plaza. The less lively atmosphere causes vicious circle shops and restaurants very often withdrew and the management department always faced unstable rental income.
The development has been open several years before and shops and offices are open as usual hence the plaza must be used and open under the construction period as well. These limited conditions was big challenge for us to take not standard design approach.
Design solution one -flexible unit landscape
Our upgrading purpose was to respect original ZHA’s beauty of the shapes and lines that were totally designed the buildings and landscape as one. Keeping original conditions also helped us to make this upgrading with less demolishment and shorter construction period. To achieve this goal we adopted the flexible and movable landscape units design. The module unit landscape furniture that are pre factory made and site installation. We designed several module units such as round bench unit, crescent bench unit, table unit, planter unit and so on in several sizes. We arranged these several units on site to provide visitors and office workers places to sit down, rest and also lying down, make them spend more time at the plaza. These units are flexible and movable then easily relocated depending on the seasonal changes and commercial demands. These units have been moved a place of the building shadow in summer time and a place of sunlight in winter time.
Design solution two – Virtual tree trellis
We have the other important solution to provide green and shade for the hard plaza that could not solve with these above designed module units. Because of the renovation project the sunken plaza has very limited space for plantings. There are only 200-300mm depth from the landscape finish level to basement slab level and unable to plant trees on the plaza except originally designed planting spots. To solve this problem we decided to design and install trellis with climber plants to provide shade place for the people. However a common trellis must block the users’ view and hide the shop front and signage in this narrow space. We designed tree shaped trellis that shall not block the plaza space and also can be the feature points for this renovation. Under the this virtual tree we planted several kinds of climbing plants and expect these will climb the edge of the steel leafs and cover whole trellis with green. At that time the trellis are going to be like a lush tree in the plaza that provide pleasant and shady place. One years after the completion the climbers reached almost the 80% of the main branch and some reached the leaf shape roof.
Additionally we designed and attached a mist equipment on these tree leafs to reduce heat-island phenomenon. It effectively reduces the temperature around the virtual trees and people still afford to rest and sit under them even in hot summer time.
The virtual tree also have the hanging pendant lights and provide impressive night scene with light and mist. This scene attracts people and contributes to the commercial atmosphere.
Design solution three – multi ways water feature.
There were a big pond and a gigantic water fall from the ground level to the sunken level at the end of the plaza, That water features required huge amounts of water for daily running and the management team did stop them after a while completion. If these waters do not be used that would be just the useless obstruction on the plaza focal points. We renovated and gave the new functions as a multi way water feature and event stage with retained the pond shape and structure. Firstly we covered the original deep pond with black artificial stone and create still shallow pond that reflects the ZHA’s building beautifully and impressively. Secondly installing computer controlled equipment, the water level can be changed depending on the purpose of the usage. When draining water to the tank and lower several centimeters the pond changes to the event stage used for the commercial event. Also, under the stone cover we installed jet fountains and mist. the stage also changes to the kids’ fun fountain space or music water show space. The multi ways water gives new attractive points at the plaza.
Project location: 968 JinZhong road ChangNing district Shanghai city PRC.
Design year: 2018
Year Built: 2019