High-performing Urban Ecologies by Zaha Hadid Architects at Venice Architecture Biennale

High-performing Urban Ecologies

The ‘High-performing Urban Ecologies’ installation by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) responds to the ‘Resilient Communities’ theme of this year’s Italian Pavilion curated by Alessandro Melis for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021.

Presenting ZHA’s Unicorn Island masterplan that is currently under construction in Chengdu, China, the installation incorporates the Alis pod and is situated within the Giardino delle Vergini at the entrance to the Italian Pavilion in Venice.

Integrating architecture, engineering and urbanism to develop low carbon solutions that conserve energy and resources, ZHA’s holistic approach is redefining the built environment’s true measure of efficiency as the improved well-being of its inhabitants.

Unicorn Island Masterplan
With China’s economy evolving from traditional heavy industries to technology-based organisations, the country is now home to a third of the world’s technology companies valued at over a billion US dollars – termed ‘unicorn companies’.

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, has developed into a centre of excellence in next-generation information technologies, intelligent manufacturing, and new energy. The Tianfu New Area to the south of the city is being developed as an ecologically sustainable civic, business and residential centre. The 67-hectare Unicorn Island masterplan within the Tianfu New Area is a mixed-use masterplan for 70,000 researchers, office staff, residents and visitors.

Driven by Tianfu New Area’s ongoing programme to re-establish its natural wetlands, Unicorn Island borders Xing Long Lake and incorporates natural water management and conservation systems. The parkland design includes many green civic spaces and increased connectivity to create living and working environments that enhance well-being.

Integrated clusters of buildings surround Unicorn Island’s central plaza and metro station; its radial masterplan enables the entire island to be accessed by a few minutes’ walk or bike ride. Directly responding to varying requirements of function, programme and efficiency, the masterplan’s diversity of interconnected buildings at a human scale cultivates a sense of community.

Alis Meeting Pod
Addressing new requirements for contemporary meeting areas, Alis is designed to enhance collaboration and cooperation within a space that integrates flexibility and comfort with advanced information technology.

In a design informed by the petals of an orchid that envelop the pod to provide privacy and shelter with optimal visibility, Alis is constructed by Tecno with precision manufacturing techniques including 3D printing and CAD/CAM tooling.

Its modular design enables Alis to be easily be disassembled, transported, repurposed and re-used in different configurations for alternative functions. Each component of the pod is integral to its circular design cycle that ensures long-life durability and minimal waste with components that can be recycled or upcycled into second life applications. Source and images Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects.

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