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RSC building in Hainan


    The following design concepts dominated throughout the project: 1. Inspirations by local elements. 2. Localized expression of out commitment to sustainability. 3. Assistance of pre-decision of sustainable design approaches has been realized with the aid of cutting-edge software.

Inspirations by Local Elements

    In Hainan, what impressed me most was the sight of red soil on my first trip to the construction site. As a result, we decided to build with the color of red soil, on which the rich vegetation of Hainan thrives, and to which we would like to pay our tribute with such an earth-colored building.

    A large portion of local folk houses are built with pumice. With relatively coarse and simple craftsmanship, their non-airtight enclosure is just right for ventilation, which is different from houses in cold regions of Northern China. The stacked texture of pumice seems to have merged into the landscape, impressing us with the power of nature. To us, the gaps, holes and colors of pumice has no difference from those of red soil and vegetation in essence, and the only difference lies in that the stones have gone through a process of cutting and stacking, which adds artificial beauty to nature without high-tech intervention.

    Richly endowed with natural resources, Hainan is a region with such favorable conditions for vegetation that our previous projects could never enjoy, and we decided to make the most of them.

    As we all know, terraced fields are formed by both natural and human power. Greatly impressed by the landscape of Yahu terraces around Wuzhishan Mountain during the preliminary stage of project negotiation, we introduced terraced ecological landscape into the entrance of the site, which faced a main crossroad, to show the building’s welcome and open gesture to the city. Part of the building and courtyards facing inward are embedded into the terraces.

    These local features has not only inspired the integration of building and landscape in our design, but also determined a series of design elements—

    1. Main Color: The building is dominated by the color of red soil.

    2. Landscape Concept: Part of exhibition space on the 1st floor is partly covered under terraced landscape, which both benefits the growth of plants and presents a leisure park to the city.

    3. Materials: Local rocks will be stacked with traditional craftsmanship. The gaps among the pumice on local folk houses have also inspired us on sun-shading design for our project.

Localized Expression of our Commitment to Sustainability

    Our sustainable design strategies are reflected in 4 aspects: 1. On the basis of the integration of building and landscape, the project’s contribution to society and openness to the public are both highlighted. 2. With an overall energy-saving scheme, different energy plans are applied to non-air-conditioned area (semi-open areas) and air-conditioned area (indoor functional areas). 3. Improvements are made to the cooling alleys and courtyards with better sun-shading and ventilation strategies. 4. In air-conditioned areas, a series of strategies are adopted to guarantee energy conservation.

    First, on the basis of the integration of building and landscape, the landscape system of the project will be completely open to the public for visiting, staying and playing. Even a path of edible plants has been planned for the citizens, with crops such as rice planted in accordance with the landscape, enriching the content of this park-styled landscape. Terraced fields, connected with platforms and courtyards at various altitudes, provide easy access to internal facilities so that the building will better serve the public.

    With its exhibition, leisure and public service areas on the 1st floor and creative industry offices above the 2nd floor as main functional spaces, the building has two main entrances at its north and east side respectively. The entrance at the north, with a courtyard in front, leads people to the public service area semi-covered under the terraced fields, as well as a series of outdoor courtyards and alleys. The east entrance is connected to a set of steps, guiding visitors along a vertical green courtyard to the 2nd floor where the focus of the building lies—a semi-outdoor and full-height atrium. The atrium, with a ceiling equipped with daylighting and fan systems, has its sides fully open to its surroundings, and people and enterprises nearby can hold various events here. Besides, the atrium, platforms, courtyards and alleys are integrated with the terraced fields at every level to form an interconnected and complete landscape system, which is complementary to the interior of the building, presenting a modern-functioned and multi-dimensional garden complex.

    Second, an overall energy-saving scheme has been implemented. The semi-open and open spaces, which serve the public, are air-conditioning-free, while  only indoor areas, mostly used as offices with privacy requirements, are air-conditioned to minimize air-conditioning load. Sustainable goals are reached by the following two approaches:

    On one hand, by making full use of features of traditional buildings in hot summer and warm winter region, sun shading and ventilation design are specially made to adjust the micro climate. For example, none of the open areas, the semi-open full-height atrium or the platforms are air-conditioned; instead, natural ventilation, daylighting and sun-shading by the building itself have guaranteed the thermal comfort in these areas.

    On the other hand, a series of strategies are applied to air-conditioned areas to improve energy efficiency, including specially designed sun-shading systems and an alley-courtyard system which facilitates daylighting and ventilation. Solid insulation, such as earth-covering is applied. Functional areas like offices are air-conditioned yet considered for sun-shading and natural ventilation, with part of them earth-covered to make the most of the favorable conditions for vegetation and reduce energy consumption. Furthermore, the full use of natural light and ventilation, as well as innovative utilization of sun-shading parts are implemented, showcasing our sustainability awareness that SUP has always maintained. Daylighting systems are implemented in each core area and earth-covered areas for ample natural light, and each courtyard can serve as a channel for ventilation, reducing air-conditioning load in spring and autumn with the help of sun-shading system.

    Third, a unique sun-shading system is developed by studying the constructive features of local clay bricks and pumice. Furthermore, researches on local folk houses’ climatic adaptability have inspired us to integrate cooling alleys, tall and narrow courtyards, water yard and sloped courtyard into a multi-dimensional alley-courtyard system to facilitate daylighting, natural ventilation and moderate adjustment to micro climate. Scattered among different parts of the building, the system can utilize daylighting and natural ventilation to the full extent. Just as its name implies, this alley-courtyard system consists of alleys and courtyards: The alleys include a narrow and long cooling alley along the multi-functional hall, narrow alleys formed by roof courtyards and sun-shading systems, while the courtyards include a green-wall courtyard at the north entrance, a circular central courtyard, a narrow water courtyard and sloped lawn courtyard.

    Fourth, the full utilization of renewable energy has guaranteed energy conservation in air-conditioned areas. With the help of the sun-shading system, the alley-courtyard system and the daylighting system, the building has maximized access to natural light and ventilation, extending its non-air-conditioned period in spring and autumn to the utmost. Furthermore, insulation approaches such as earth-covering has guaranteed the thermal stability around air-conditioned areas to achieve better performance.

Assistance of pre-decision of sustainable design approaches has been realized with the aid of cutting-edge software
    It’s been SUP Atelier’s working habit to introduce computer-aided methods into pre-decision of sustainable design, establishing a working process with scientific analysis and decision. In the project of the city hall, computer aided methods have played a significant role in determining factors of the sun-shading system, the semi-open atrium and the alley-courtyard system.

    In the design phase, we established a method for pre-evaluation of the performance of climatic buffering of the building’s surfaces with the aid of ENVI-met software. Taking the surface of courtyards as example, through the examination of its form, location, as well as the impact of sun-shading and ventilation on the climatic buffering zone and the building’s thermal comfort, we have come up with design approaches for the surfaces of courtyards in hot summer and warm winter regions like Hainan, which our future practices can refer to.

    Furthermore, with the help of Butterfly, a plug-in of Grasshopper, we did thorough simulation and evaluation of energy consumption level and daylighting performance of buffering zones (the semi-open full-height atrium and the alley-courtyard system). Thus, we can measure the impact of buffering zones on interior spaces and figure out potential problems of buffering spaces in our ongoing projects. Then parametric optimization experiments can be carried out in pursuit of further design outcomes.