City Oasis

Third Year Studio Project.

– Currently Nominated for 2014 Teron Prize


City Oasis 城市绿洲

Community Center in Shanghai


The name of the center conjures two closely coupled themes:

1.   A reflexive and mutually reinforcing relationship between water from the canal and the surrounding community.  The waters that flow through this community also flow through a network in the walls and ceiling of the building. The water is filtered and purified by aquaculture as it passes through the building. In return, the water cools the facility and nurtures the algae blooms within the network that cleanse the air and are a source of bioluminescence.

2.  The center as a revitalizing agency already present within the community.  The center functions as a cultural and community oasis.  The center provides strength and renewal to the community by literally “tapping” into a source of energy that has always been present there. In this sense, the center evokes a tenant of Confucian philosophy that true strength already lies within those who seek it.


Building Description

城市绿洲 evokes memes of spatial integration. Ceiling, floors, and walls all flow

seamlessly into each other. Interior and exterior spaces blend into each other. In this way the building, park, bridge, and canal all work together to help weave arrays of nondescript condominium blocks into a unified and vibrant community.

The building function also depends on strict spatial segregation.  Specifically, two vascular systems isolate currents within the building that, while distinct, are also interdependent.  One system channels running water through the building: the other channels running people.

The water system deploys pumps driven by turbines leveraging the energy of the natural current flow in the canal.  The water system provides natural cooling when water is syphoned from the bottom of the canal.

The building’s translucent roof is constructed from natural hemp fibers and a resin manufactured from tree sap. This choice of material provides natural lighting through much of the building.  A similar composite material is frequently used in construction of large yachts and, while use in architecture is thus far unprecedented, it offers important benefits. The material has excellent strength to weight ratio allowing for a new language of spatial constructs to emerge.  Also, the reduced load translates to reduced costs for the foundation. If sourced properly, they, too, could be made entirely from inexpensive renewable materials.

Water is carried though clear pipes that transform the space into a dancing gallery of diffused light.  Natural algae will grow in these pipes overtime. The grounds keeper of the centre will also act as a gardener of the pipes.  The building’s colour can be altered due to different algal blooms and even bioluminescent algae can make the building glow at night.  This algae gardening helps capture carbon and improve the air quality for the community.

Meanwhile, a running bridge channels a flow of people throughout the center. This provides both a more stimulating and more social workout than running on a treadmill. Also, the track punctures every space of the building and allows runners to stay indoors, away from the polluted air that currently permeates the surrounding neighbourhood.

Programs in the centre focus on the value of balanced exercise and community activity. The centre houses a courtyard soccer pitch, a kayaking club on the canal, a gym, basketball court, and the continuous running track.  People coming together in exercise embody the social and recreational energy that helps bind the center with the surrounding community. It fosters the rejuvenation and heath that the community so desperately needs.