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Linked Hybrid

Steven Holl Architects

Steven Holl loves China. Linked Hybrid is the first of four huge China projects designed by his practice to be completed. On many counts, it is Holl’s favourite: for its mammoth proportions but especially for the opportunity to provide Beijing with a residential complex on a par with New York’s urban dimension with pedestrian areas and public services. Two of Holl’s other three other projects - the Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture and the Vanke Center in Shenzhen - will be completed during 2009 while the third, the Sliced Porosity Block in Chengdu, will be finished in 2010. Holl is proud of the opportunity to provide Beijing - after the Olympic Games now famous for its iconic buildings by celebrity architects - with a complex that aims to enhance liveability in a city whose development has largely disregarded even the most elementary requirements of ordinary citizens. Like many other large residential complexes around the city, Holl was originally asked to build “point towers isolated at the base; gated communities with no services”. He insisted, however, that what was needed was “a project that has a vision for urban interaction, one that has services, and is open to the public”. The upshot was a complete change of heart by the developer. As a result, the 750 apartments are now flanked by commercial areas, a public garden, hotel, nursery school, Montessori school, underground car park and, as a central aggregating feature, a cinemateque. The key spatial-organisation choice was to create two public-area levels or loops. The more traditional ground level has shops, the cinema and a large reflecting pool. On the upper level, spectacular pedestrian walkways link the eight towers between the 12th and 18th floors, providing sweeping views over the city. This “sky-loop” is accessible to the public and creates a “kinematic” thoroughfare through the whole complex in an upward movement going from one public function to another: from the swimming pool on to the gym,...

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