Solar Trees Marketplace / Koichi Takada Architects
Text description provided by the architects. An “architectural forest” of 32 trees in Shanghai, designed by Koichi Takada Architects, has been built to serve as an evolving retail space and a symbol of a future that returns nature to our cities.
A look at history determines the way forward – Situated 20km southwest of Shanghai, on a site that only four decades ago was densely forested, Solar Trees Marketplace is the first step in returning green to greater Shanghai and mitigating the effects of urban sprawl. The launch of Phase I celebrates the biophilic architecture of Sydney-based architect Koichi Takada and introduces conversations around the importance of agile and adaptable architecture in achieving a sustainable future. It is a visual reminder of Koichi Takada Architects’ commitment to reintroducing nature to the built environment.
Phase I. – Solar Trees Marketplace is designed for longevity. Planned to adapt and remain relevant as the needs of its owners change over time. Phase I, now open, sees Solar Trees Marketplace as a state-of-the-art, immersive sales and display suite for the adjacent 155,000m2 residential masterplan development, which Koichi Takada Architects have also designed. From the outside, the organic tree-like building is a symbolic gateway to the expansive masterplan that prioritizes pedestrian activity, parkland, and nature in an increasingly urban environment.
Phase II. – When the residents move into the neighborhood, this extraordinary structure will evolve into a vibrant marketplace—reflecting the vision of Koichi Takada Architects and developers Tian An to revive the role of traditional Chinese marketplaces in a contemporary way. A translucent canopy of photovoltaic cells will power the operation of this bustling community hub intended to support local businesses and act as a gathering place for residents and neighbors. The seamless transition between functions is key to the design’s success and showcases the innovative potential of flexible, future-proof architecture. The impacts of manufacturing and construction on our planet are well-documented, and adaptable architecture is one approach to reducing impact. The ingrained flexibility of Solar Trees Marketplace allows for simple transformation to ensure it remains relevant in an ever-changing, unpredictable future.
Biophilic design for humanizing architecture – In time, the organic form of Solar Trees Marketplace is intended to merge with a promenade of native Camphor trees – transforming it into an oasis of calm amid the bustling urban landscape. Once again, restoring the dominance of nature. By seamlessly blending natural elements with a palette inspired by nature, the structure embodies the concept of biophilic architecture, creating an environment that establishes a strong connection between humans and nature. Thoughtful manipulation of light and shadow creates a balance between aesthetics and practicality. Ample shade invites visitors to seek respite from the sun, while apertures draw in natural light and facilitate natural ventilation, reducing the need for artificial lighting and cooling. This allows shoppers and retailers to enjoy the interplay of light and a gentle breeze while they go about their day. Solar Trees Marketplace is designed, on the one hand, to express the beauty of nature and, on the other hand, to replicate the positive well-being effects of being in nature.
A word from the architect – Koichi Takada, says, “We were shocked to learn that this site was covered in trees as recently as 1984. Our design seeks to start conversations around what can be achieved through design and create a living, breathing environment that inspires, nurtures, and adapts to the needs of both residents and the community. “
“It was important for this building to embody biophilic design principles and showcase what progressive sustainable innovation can look like. I believe Nature holds the answers – and Architecture can start the conversation.”