Located in the new district of Fengdong near Xi’an, LAND Community Center serves as a social and cultural venue for the burgeoning neighborhood. Conceived as a floating gateway for a new residential development, LAND Community Center consists of community service center, cafeteria, gallery, multi-purpose room for educational and recreational purposes, reading room, a daycare center for children, it also provides a gymnasium for badminton and basketball courts, a fitness workout room and swimming pool below grade. These recreational spaces are organized around an oval sunken courtyard to allow the natural light to penetrate into the underground facilities.
Beyond the scope of community center itself, the LAND project is designed as an urban structure which aims to provide intimate pockets of public space. Land Community Center hovers over the entry plaza of the residential neighborhood along the main boulevard of Fengdong district. By elevating the gallery, exhibition space and community service center above ground, this community center frees up more open space for the neighborhood, providing a civic place for casual gathering and communal activities. The gravity-defying structure offers pedestrian friendly protection from extreme weather conditions such as harsh sunlight and rain. The landscaped plaza can be accessible for residents of the neighborhoods nearby.
The sculptural quality of this building not only creates an identifiable presence for the new district, but also a unique immersion experience for the residents and visitors alike. The contrast between the complexity of organic base and simplicity of the upper volume is coherent with the duality of Chinese architecture tradition: the integration of the artificial intervention with nature. To achieve the sculptural quality and surface effect of the lower portion for the building, a combination of digital fabrication with local crafts were experimented to produce precast GFRC panels. The mass and weight of the lower portion reference local historical city wall and gateway.
The sculptural base of the community center features a dynamic surface of rippling effect to emanate tactile and sensory experience. The upper portion of the community center is wrapped around with curved high performance low-iron glass unit, forming a light-filled interior space for community gathering and activities.
In the sunken courtyard, a featured Zen garden serves as a visual focal point for the multilevel community center. An open floor and flowing interior concept are introduced to encourage the interaction and exchange between the residents. Orchestrated through a series of events, the center provides communal experience of the featured programmes ranging for civic to recreational activities.
Designed as a LEED Gold certified building, the entire project was conceived as a bioclimatic infrastructure which tries to obtain its levels of comfort by combining the local natural resources, both climatic and material ones. The building is also designed to stimulate natural ventilation and create thermal mass and shades which are much appreciated during the extreme heat spikes throughout the summer. Natural light is abundant both above and below grade with well-planned program distribution.
LAND Community Center is intended to create a flexible building for a range of community activities, providing a catalyst for fostering a lively neighborhood. It reflects the ethos of city of Xi’an by integrating contemporary design with historical attributes.
In contrast to many rapid urban developments in China, this gravity-defying structure not only establishes a unique architectural expression for the burgeoning residential complex, it maximizes the provision of open and inclusive civic spaces for communal experience, creating a sense of neighborhood and belonging for the otherwise nondescriptive urban district.