Construction has started on the Lankuaikei Agriculture Development (LAD) Headquarters in Shanghai. The 11-storey terraced office building brings together both high- and low-tech sustainability strategies under a swooping technological roof to create a showcase for the company that researches and develops technologies to maximise the productivity and sustainability of Chinese agriculture. Located near the lake at the centre of Lingang New Town, a rapidly developing urban area in Shanghai, LAD HQ promises to become one of China’s greenest and smartest buildings.
The terraces that step down on the building’s north side are covered in crops and other plants connected to agriculture, and they include a publicly accessible route to the top of the building that provides spaces for LAD to showcase its work and research. A curving roof structure which follows the shape of the terraces covers the ensemble. On the north this structure is permeable, filtering sunlight but allowing rain to reach the terraces below. On the building’s southern edge, these walls also help protect the office workers from the noise of the main road outside.
The building is confronting a wide variety of sustainability challenges both indirectly and directly, with high-tech and low-tech solutions. Through material selection and life-cycle analysis, the embodied carbon of the design will be much lower than a typical comparable construction. The roof structure and terraces aid in efficient natural ventilation. This ventilation and the shading strategies reduce energy requirements. Thanks to the solar panels incorporated into the design, the building will therefore be almost energy-neutral in operation.
The terraces collect rainwater for use in functions such as toilets, as well as providing biodiversity and healthy working environments thanks to the greenery that extends all the way to the top floors. The design even indirectly contributes to public education and agricultural production, thanks to its role in facilitating the mission of LAD and the exhibition spaces that help manifest their vision. The design of these exhibition spaces is being developed in a collaboration between university students at Tongji University and Delft Technical University.
“It’s always exciting to see a building being realised, especially in cases like this. It’s an exciting building with special features that make it a showcase for how we can make more sustainable architecture”, says MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs. “And it creates a double whammy of sustainability, offering a showcase for the sustainable work of others – in this case for a green tech company, helping them to visualise their mission of maximising sustainability and human health by knowledge development and technological innovation.”
“The curving roof structure used in the building incorporates sustainable development strategies of different technical difficulties, and also strikingly demonstrates the corporate culture and identity of LAD, expressing the close relationship between modern advanced technology and agricultural transformation and development. In the future, it will become a green and intelligent building in the true sense and an ‘agricultural oasis’”, added president of LAD Mr. Weihua Dong.
Inside, the building contains the 6,000m2 offices of the LAD headquarters on its upper levels, where there are views to both the lake in the north and the park in the south, and 9,000m2 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 HQ – connected by an “exhibition street”. In its two basement levels, the building has a canteen and parking, but the “agricultural oasis” concept even extends below ground thanks to a number of voids which allow light, fresh air, and greenery to make their presence felt.