Steven Holl Architects’ Linked Hybrid stands out as one of the most innovative projects to be completed in the past couple of years. Inspired by the traditional polychromatic Chinese architecture, as well as the urban layout of older Beijing neibourhoods developed prior to the 1980s, the architects have designed a modern alternative to the current trend of individualistic urban towers. Here, a strong urban fabric is weaved on the ground as well as on the upper floors where a new public space is implemented within a ring that bridges all the towers together. In this small city, no building is an island.
With over 600 apartments sited adjacent to the old city wall of Beijing, one of the central aims of this Hybrid Building complex is the creation of a new urban space; around, over and through multifaceted spatial layers. The aspiration of the developer Modern Group is for an ultra-modern expression of 21st Century ecological urban living, within the 210,000 square meter that form thte project.
Current development in Beijing is almost entirely individualistic “object buildings” such as freestanding towers. As an alternative, Linked Hybrid is conceived as a “city within a city”. It envisions the urban space as its central core, integrating the activities and programs that can support the daily life of over 2500 inhabitants: café’s, delis, laundry, dry cleaners, florists etc, line the main public passages.
The eight towers are linked at the twentieth floor by a ring of cafes and services.
The polychrome architecture of Ancient China here inspires a new phenomenal dimension especially inscribing the “spatiality of the night”. The undersides of the cantilevered portions are colored membranes in night light glow.
Misting fountains from the water retention basin activate the night light in colorful clouds, while the floating Cineplex centerpiece has partial images of its ongoing films projected on its undersides and reflected in the water.
Focused on the experience of the passage of the body through spaces, the towers are organized to take movement, timing and sequence into consideration.
The point of view changes with a slight ramp up, a slow right turn. The elevator displaces like a “jump cut” to another series of passages on a higher level, which pan across exhilarating peripheral views.
The encircled towers express a collective aspiration; rather than towers as isolated objects or private islands in an increasingly privatized city evokes the hope of a new type of collective 21st century space in the air is inscribed.
Programmatically this loop aspires to be semi-lattice-like rather than simplistically linear. The architects had an initial series of programs, and they hope the sky-loop and the base-loop will constantly generate random relationships, just as a modern city does.
Mass housing in china has historically been standardized and repetitive. Holl wanted to break the pattern; this new vertical urban sector aspires to individuation in urban living. Hundreds of different apartment layouts in a huge variety of types will be available among the 622 living spaces constructed here. It should be emphasized, that even if this would lead to a commercial advantage, the reason for this individuation is philosophical as well.
Digitally driven prefabricated construction of the exterior structure of the eight towers allows for “beamless” ceilings. Every apartment has two exposures with no interior hallways. Principles of Feng-Shui are followed throughout the complex, which is aimed at sustainability “LEED Gold” rating.
Landscape Concept: Garden of Mounds
Re-using the earth excavated from the new construction, five landscape mounds are formed, each one fusing with recreational functions to be enjoyed by all. The new park is semi-public space while the use of the integrated functions is electronically controlled by the residents’ cards.
1. Mound of Childhood
Adjacent to and integrated with the kindergarten, this mound has a tunnel through it and is fenced in for child security.
Functions: Swings and Slides; Sand Box; Play Area; Climbing Frame; Toys
2. Mound of Adolescence
Basket Ball Court
Roller Blade and Skate Board Area
Music and TV Lounge
3. Mound of Middle Age
Coffee and Tea House (open to all)
Tai Chi Platform
Tennis Courts (2)
4. Mound of Old Age
Chess Tables and Reading Lounge
Tai Chi Platform
Exercise Machines Park
5. Mound of Infinity
Sustainable design intent
Linked Hybrid’s intended experience of spatiality and passage has a tremendous impact on its sustainability. Envisioned as a “city within a city,” it is a pedestrian-oriented combination of public and private space that encourages the use of shared resources and reduces the need for wasteful modes of transit. It is an urban oasis, proving that peaceful, green spaces can exist in an exploding metropolis such as Beijing. This project aims to attain LEED Gold Certification.
An estimated 220,000 liters of gray water from all apartment units will be recycled each day and reused for landscape and green roof irrigation, toilet flushing, and rebalancing pond water—resulting in a 41% decrease in potable water usage.
Linked Hybrid’s ground source heat pump system, one of the largest in residential construction, is its most groundbreaking innovation. Shouldering 70% of the complex’s yearly heating and cooling load, the system is comprised of 660 geothermal wells, 100 meters below the basement foundation. Additionally, the underground wells have taken the place of above-ground space normally needed for cooling towers, increasing available green areas, minimizing noise pollution and significantly reducing the CO2 emissions created by traditional heating/cooling methods.
High performance building systems
The project boasts exterior window louvers and low-e coated glass for solar gain and heat control, as well as a high-performance building envelope and integrated slab heating and cooling system.
Indoor environmental quality
Linked Hybrid makes use of a technique called displacement ventilation, in which air that is slightly below desired temperature in a room is released from the floor. The cooler air displaces the warmer air, causing it to be released from the room and resulting in a cooler overall space and a fresh breathing environment.
Program: 750 apartments, commercial zones, hotel, cinemateque, kindergarten, underground parking
Floor area: (square) 2383797sf/221462sm
Floor area: (square) above ground 1753775sf/162931sm
Floor area: (square) below ground 629635sf/58495sm
Building area: (square) 2260421sf/210000sm
Site area: 6.18 hectares
Client: Modern Investment Group, Beijing
Architecture: Steven Holl Architects
Steven Holl, Li Hu (design architect), Li Hu (partner in charge), Hideki Hirahara (project architect), Yenling Chen (assistant project architect), Gong Dong (project manager), Tim Bade, Chris McVoy (technical advisor), Garrick Ambrose, Rodolfo Dias, Guido Guscianna, Peter Enlaender, Young Jang, Edward Lalonde, James MacGillivray, Matthew Uselman (project designer), Jason Anderson, Christian Beerli, Johnna Cressica Brazier, Cosimo Caggiula, Kefei Cai, Shih-I Chow, Frank Cottier, Christiane Deptolla, Mike Fung, JongSeo Lee, Eric Li, Richard Liu, Clark Manning, Giorgos Mitroulias, Olaf Schmidt, Judith Tse, Li Wang, Ariane Wiegner, Lan Wu, Noah Yaffe, Liang Zhao (project team)
Local architect: Beijing Capital Engineering Architecture Design Co. Ltd.
Structural engineer: Guy Nordenson and Associates
Consulting structural engineer: China Academy of Building Research
Mechanical engineer: Transsolar Energietechnik GmbH, Cosentini Associates
Lighting consultant: L'Observatoire International
Curtain wall consultant: Front Inc., Xi-Fei, Jianghe
Landscape architect: Steven Holl Architects, EDAW Beijing, CLDC