As China has witnessed unprecedented urban growth over the past decade — and contends with increased pollution, floods and other environmental effects — the Nanjing Eco Hi-Tech Island’s Xin Wei Yi Technology Park provides smart eco-urbanism that prioritizes both people and the planet.
Located in the Yangtze River, just 6.5 kilometers from the city’s downtown area and across the bridge from the new central business district, the island helps drives Nanjing’s economic advancement and the future of the area’s sustainable development. Positioned as Nanjing’s center for the practice of high-tech innovation, and an ecological destination and resource for citizens and tourists, the Xin Wei Yi Technology Park offers a range of mixed-use spaces, including office buildings that serve as incubators for technology and environmental companies, as well as a cultural venue and a public promenade.
Human-scale spaces offer a welcoming experience for locals and visitors alike. The Exhibition Hall, with its dramatic roofline, is the first impression of the campus as visitors approach the island from downtown. The eight peaks on the roof symbolize the neighboring Zhong and Stone Mountains, and each peak has an oculus or “light cannon” that drives natural light into the large floors. The concept of the light cannons are magnified in the design of the eight, pentagon-shaped Office Research Buildings, which feature large interior courtyards and landscaped roofs. Scaled from small to medium to large, the research building forms were inspired by ancient Chinese architecture in the region, where prominent roofs anchor buildings low to the ground and appear to float above — hovering at the horizon between earth and sky. In addition, the surrounding undulating landscape houses spaces for coffee shops and retail, and its organic form was based off of the branched structure of a tree.
The project touches on a critical conversation about sustainability and design practice in China, where development continues at lightning-fast speed and design has typically focused on utility and cost more than environmental impact. Multiple green features prioritize site integration, daylight harvesting, natural materials, water reclamation and filtration to help combat China’s carbon emissions.
Roofs that save energy
A dual-layer roof on the Exhibition Hall significantly reduces excess energy and long, cantilevered eaves provide passive shading — while the eight roof peaks bring daylight deep into the building. Numerous light studies, aided by an environment consultant, helped optimize their shape to maximize daylight. The hall also relies on a geothermal heat pump system. As a result, energy use is more than 30% lower than comparable conventional buildings.
The Office Research Buildings — which include work environments for research and development organizations — stay cool via a series of design strategies. They are lifted off the ground by one or two stories to increase passive cooling via natural ventilation. Furthermore, each building’s pentagonal shape creates narrower floors that further optimize natural ventilation and bring daylight inside. Additional features reduce energy use and excess heat, such as strategically placed vertical fins, which maximize passive cooling while maintaining clear, open views. The fins also showcase a playful abstracted interpretation of the buildings’ floorplan.
Zero water runoff
Rooftop gardens and terraces on both the Office Research Buildings and the Exhibition Hall eliminate water runoff, provide refuge for local wildlife and give office workers and exhibit visitors an invigorating oasis to refresh and take in the expansive views of the island and downtown Nanjing. Water saving strategies — such as rainwater harvesting — help reduce water use for irrigation by up to 50% compared to traditional systems. In addition, ground level native plantings cover more than 30% of the landscape to help control water runoff and reduce erosion, with local trees and shrubs providing a dramatic entry for exhibition attendees, office workers and visitors to the area.