TITLE:  Misting Trees, The Village, Sanlitun

LOCATION:  Beijing, China

CLIENT:  Swire Properties Beijing Limited

ARCHITECT:  Kengo Kuma and Associates

ARTIST:  Sada Lam, Oval Partnership

The Village in Sanlitun is an open-plan shopping, dining, entertainment and cultural community in the heart of Sanlitun, Beijing, blending traditional Hutong village lifestyle with 21st century style and sophistication.

From an original concept from the architect we designed and fabricated four different sized steel trees (4m, 3m and 2m) in hand-beaten copper cladding, with misting devices in the centre, which fill the globe of each tree with cool misting, acting as outdoor air-conditioning for shoppers and visitors.

Tree, of all, inspires our approach in architecture. Its mechanics is regenerative, its form pleasant, its play with light poetic, its scale human, and its very presence vital but subtle.  Tree in urban contexts distills and cleanse, provokes social interactions and, with its very scale and emplacement, makes spaces personal. Mist is ethereal in form, but real in its wetness, or its summer delight when it dries. Urban design for us is in many ways interpretation of a lineage.  Every stone we use adds to the stones and the stoniness of the fortresses, and every tree we plant adds to the sea of green and pays tribute to the fallen. There used to be trees as we surveyed the site in 2003, and there used to be trees, a lot of, everywhere. We as a people somehow have forgotten them because the soils have to give way to basements, tree trunks to passageway, and foliage to signage.  The ethereal misting tree is a reinterpretation of this past, and its presence.


DATE: November 2008

PHOTO: Alison Pickett


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