Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Green roof-topped development
Green roof-topped development to turn elderly residents into social butterflies
The hills are very much alive — and active — at a mountainous, Bjarke Ingels Group-designed development for residents of a certain age in Hualien, Taiwan.
Given that I’ve taken a gander at the big, small-minded winners in the 2014 Architizer A+ Awards, I figured that it would only be fair to take a quick glimpse at a non-tiny residential project in another one of the awards' “Plus” categories that “explore that link between global issues and the structures that society builds.”
I was immediately drawn to the winners/finalists in the “Architecture +Aging” category as architecture and aging is a topic that I’ve associated with Architizer long before the website’s glitzy award-bestowing days — it's something very much embedded into the DNA of the site. Architizer co-founder Matthias Hollwich was the driving force behind the University of Pennsylvania’s New Aging conference in 2010 and, together with Architizer honcho/HWKN partner Marc Kushner, Hollwich dreamt up BOOM, a totally wild eco-retirement community proposed for outside of Palm Springs — I called it "more South Beach by way of Dubai than Shady Pines" — where keeping busy is the key to health and longevity.
And on the topic of keeping busy, it would appear that — when not designing park-studded “protective ribbons” for Lower Manhattan, LEGO experience centers, or trash-incinerating ski resorts — Danish starchitect/sustainable hedonist Bjarke Ingels and his namesake firm, BIG, have found the time to create a lush, alpine-inspired development (his most peak-heavy yet?) for Hualien County, Taiwan, where residents are encouraged to keep in constant motion by utilizing a meandering public path (complete with a designated speed-walking lane) that weaves throughout the development as a means of encouraging social interaction and physical fitness. And if the weather is ever less than ideal, not to worry — there's always the underground jogging path.
The Hualien Wellness & Residential development seeks to find the perfect balance between nature, health and the built environment. Sloping green roofs provide shade, remove heat, harvest rainwater and produce clean, breathable air, while the proximity to lush vegetation in the apartments creates a stress-relieving environment for residents.
Hualien, situated on the eastern coast of Taiwan, has seen an out flux of young people seeking better job opportunities, but population ageing is prompting a growing demand for a “second home” where retired seniors can enjoy an active lifestyle. The Hualien development places a particular focus on exercise and healthy living, with programs catering to an ageing demographic. The buildings are shaped to encourage the growth of a community that is health-conscious and productive. In addition to designated speed walking paths, a public path wraps around the entire complex and is studded with interesting activities to pique interest and encourage more walking and exercise, such as an observation point, performance stage, shops and restaurants. An underground jogging path can be used during inclement weather and serves as an excellent shortcut to all buildings via an interior route. A medical facility located within the complex ensures that residents have ready access to healthcare services.
The project description goes on to explain that the units within the vegetation-clad development, commissioned by the Taiwan Land Development Corporation, are actually pretty bare bones — just the "basic functions" — as to encourage residents to get outside, exercise, and take advantage of the development's myriad communal amenities — gardens, swimming pools, lounges, kitchens, meditation rooms, and the like — where they can “share and learn from each other" and assist in "building a community." But for evidenced in the project renderings, those who do decide to stay in are rewarding with cuddlin' kittens.
Lots more jaw-dropping renderings and info on the project, also a finalist in the MIPIM Awards, can be found over at Architizer. It's also worth noting that Ingels himself served on the large, "blue-chip cast" of jury members for the 2014 Architizer A+ Awards. And while the Hualien Residences didn't win in the Architecture +Aging category (that honor went to LOFT MNN by C.T. Architects), BIG's design for the Danish Maritime Museum did pick up the jury prize in the Museum category.