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Images + drone footage

First look at Heatherwick’s under-construction Shanghai ‘tree mountain’

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New photographs and drone footage have been released of an almost-built 300,000m² tree-covered development near Shanghai’s art district designed by Heatherwick Studio

Under construction since 2014, the huge 1000 Trees mixed-use scheme features 400 terraces and has been designed to resemble ‘tree-covered mountains’. 

The trees are supported by 1,000 structural columns covering the façade. According to the King’s Cross-based practice, the design was ‘conceived not as a building but as a piece of topography’. 


Built next to a public park in a residential area 20 minutes from central Shanghai, the existing 15-acre site incorporated several historic buildings and the land was split into two plots, separated by a narrow stretch of government land. The scheme for developer Tian An China is expected to complete by 2019. 

Designer’s view

The site is located next to the M50 arts district and a public park. 1000 Trees is conceived not only as a building but as a piece of topography and takes the form of two tree-covered mountains, populated by hundreds of columns.

Rather than hiding the columns which provide structural support, the columns emerge at the top of the building as large planters, each holding a handful of trees.

Existing planning permission for two conventional shopping mall blocks had been granted for the site, but a huge, boxy building would need to be broken into smaller pieces in order to fit in with the surroundings.

The integrated planting acts as a natural balancing element and the building’s edges are lowered to minimise the impact where it meets the art district and park, reducing the discernible threshold between them.

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