US firm designing green center in China

Updated: 2015-01-21 10:37

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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US firm designing green center in China

California-based architecture firm 5+design has designed an environmentally-sustainable lifestyle center set to open in Wuhan by 2016. Provided to China Daily by 5+design.

California-based architecture firm 5+design is creating Wuhan's first environmentally-sustainable lifestyle center.

The mixed-use project will take up about 172 acres of the capital city of Hubei province, with neighborhoods centered around metro stations, open spaces and pedestrian-friendliness.

The project is to be completed in two phases: the first phase - construction of the residential towers, mall and underground - will be completed by 2016.

The second phase will be done a year or so later and will include connecting those buildings with an office tower, according to Mike Ellis, managing principal at 5+design. This project will cater to a "high value" community, Ellis said, as mixed-use centers usually are.

Ellis told China Daily that the project is set within a larger community that is all being developed by Shui On Land, a Hong Kong developer that has completed projects in major Chinese cities. The company is best known for its development of Shanghai's Xintiandi, an eating, shopping and entertainment district in Shanghai.

"We are excited to see the beginning of a project that is very much an original in its approach to merging urban life with the natural environment," Ellis said. "This project is expected to bring a new element to the mix of how a community interacts with the built environment and in the process, hopefully showcase a new method of how to bring often polarized design uses together."

Within the space, there will be two office buildings, two residential buildings and with retail buildings, which are designed to open up to the outdoors when the weather is right, minimizing the need for air conditioning, according to Ellis.

"It's been designed to be opened to the environment," he said.

China is a major market for 5+design, which has headquarters in Los Angeles and turns 10-years-old in May. The company currently has more than 40 design projects in China.

5+design focuses on sustainable design, which Ellis said local developers are increasingly turning towards.

"I think that China - its natural trajectory - is going to have to be toward taking more care of its environment and ensuring that its citizenry is comfortable with the steps that the country's taking towards that," he said. "I think private developers are also responding to that by trying to create more sustainable projects and projects that fit within that approach."

Wuhan, compared to a city like Beijing, is not as polluted, Ellis said, but he doesn't think "China can sustain not having to address these environmental issues. I think the country is, but I think they take more time to clean up. A lot of China still gets blanketed by smog and I guess my belief is that long-term China will address these issues just like they've addressed other issues associated with globalization and modernization."

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