Tag Archives: UPDIS

Green Building, Good Meeting.

Last week I was invited to attend an UPDIS project meeting at the Shenzhen Institute of Building Research (IBR) headquarters in the Futian District of the city. The building not only houses the sustainable architecture and engineering firm, but they built the showcase piece themselves.

After the meeting our team was given a guided tour of the site. IBR is about 20 stories with a 12 story outdoor atrium on the upper floors. The cut-away design of the courtyard allows natural daylight to penetrate deep into the interior of the building. An employee shared with me that the bi-level office suites create an interactive workplace that make collaboration easy. The upper-story outdoor decks, small playground and rooftop gardens all offer beautiful views of the surrounding lush hills and are kept cool by natural breezes.

Other sustainable design features of IBR include:
− Natural ventilation system, featuring adjustable windows
− Personalized ventilation distribution, under seats in auditorium, through tubes at each desk
− Solar photovoltaic panels

− Rain water collection, grey-water recycling and zero discharge of waste water

− Day lighting in underground parking garages through skylights

− Locally sourced building materials
− A program to encourage employees to take the stairs that involved dropping multi-colored pebbles into buckets and monthly prizes (an employee told me the popularity waned after the first year)
− And I am sure many more that were literally lost in translation

My only concern about the true “greenness” of IBR is the site selection of the building. Its hillside location made for great views of the Shenzhen skyline, but the surrounding land uses are no more than 2-3 stories and looked like functional industrial operations. Maybe this area is targeted for future development and added density? (Which in entirely possible!) But as of right now IBR seems out of place.
Overall it was great to be included in this project meeting and tour, even if the meeting was conducted entirely in Mandarin! Experiencing the dynamics and formalities of two firms working together is always interesting. Some things were the same (technical difficulties with projectors and conference callers) and others different (hot tea and warm snacks refilled throughout) than typical meetings in the States. I was even introduced to a University of Oregon Landscape Architecture student who has the luxury of staying onsite in one of the IBR visiting scholar live-work units during her internship.
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New Office, New Island

It was a whirlwind of a first day at UPDIS (Urban Planning and Design Institute of Shenzhen). After some necessary protocol, i.e. accommodations, lunch, office tour, I was scooped into a meeting for the LingNi Peninsula Conceptual Planning project, one of two projects I will work on this summer. UPDIS recently beat out the competition and was selected to develop the plan for the LingNi Peninsula, a new island extension of the city of Wenzhou. At lunch my supervisor, Chen Wei, said that over the past three years UPDIS has transitioned from solely doing projects for the city of Shenzhen towards operating like a private firm and acting as a consultant for multiple municipalities throughout China.

The city of Wenzhou is a wealthy costal city in the Zheziang province area of China, about a 1,000km north of Shenzhen. The city is planning on filling in space between two existing small islands off the coast of Wenzhou (shown in white) in order to create more space for high tech businesses, residential homes, light industry and cultural attractions.

A French co-worker explained to me how UPDIS is very interested in the perspectives of the foreigners they have on staff (a total of two). The only parallel endeavor I am familiar with is the construction of Île Notre-Dame, part of Parc Jean Drapeau in Montreal, Quebec. Where in 1965 excess dirt from the construction of the city’s Metro was used to create a recreational island park in the middle of the St. Laurent River.

In Wenzhou the southern existing island had a 300m high mountain the team had incorporated into their design schemes as protected natural space. On their most recent visit to the site they discovered the city has already cut into the mountain and is using the dirt to start building the new island city. The LingNi Peninsula is expected to be built by 2020, be 130 square kilometers, and be home to 1 million people.

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