Gardens in the Sky
With the creation of new developments that embrace indoor/outdoor living and a sustainable lifestyle, a return to nature is evident in the Chinese luxury marketplace.
By Stacey Staum
Rooftop gardening and organic farming are not always associated with the luxury lifestyle. But two new real estate developments in China are changing the profile of luxury living through the blending of parks, gardens and sustainable amenities into the indoor realm.
Luxelakes Crystal Laputa, located in Chengdu, offers high-rise luxury living with the feel of stand-alone houses. Tim Magill, design principal of the development, explains, “The main concept was to create a vertical village, where you have houses of distinction in a tower rather than having them on the ground. They have the feel of the American dream with a garden, pool and backyard, and they sit on their own plots, but are stacked one on top of the other.” Magill describes the development as offering a California lifestyle, with indoor/outdoor living and an inherent connectedness to nature.
The development features some of the finest amenities, with sustainability at the forefront of the design. “The retail village amenities are interconnected by water taxis and above-road pedestrian bridges, so the notion of walkability makes this a really sustainable community. These communities, since they are mixed use, are more sustainable because you’re not going off site for everything,” Magill says. In addition to designer shops and restaurants, Crystal Laputa features beautiful gardens, spaces for children to play, teahouses and clubhouses for the enjoyment of the community.
Another environmentally conscious feature can be found in the design of the residences themselves. “From a technical sustainability side, all of the buildings use low-E glass. In Chengdu, there’s a lot of cloud cover, so while the buildings are glassy, there’s not a need for sun-shading because of the micro-climate there,” Magill says.
Wuhan Tiandi Park Place, found in Wuhan, provides residents of the community with sustainable opportunities in the development, and hosts a variety of high-end retail shops, businesses and community gathering areas. Changsuk Lim, project designer of the development, shares, “There are park spaces emerging from the river, with maximum accessibility for the whole community, not just residents. We try to engage the community in the emerging urban life and green aspects of the project. We provide a huge urban level under roof, in which we also provide education about sustainability and 24-hour organic gardens. The residents can also have their own small gardens to grow their own organic produce.”
The design of the building allows for environmentally conscious living year-round. “Most seasons will be comfortable via mechanical systems, but we also engage the folding doors and windows, which face the garden. The doors and windows can be opened so the breeze can enter the mall and can cool it down. We really try to balance between natural ventilation, which is passive, and mix with it a mechanical cooling system. The gardens with folding doors help with climate control, and also give people access to indoor/outdoor spaces,” he says. The buildings are also LEED-certified.
Community is crucial to the Park Place project. “We’ve really been trying to create a lifestyle that is a fusion between inside and outside,” says Lim. “Mixing nature and urban life together is important. The project offers a lifestyle center, allowing for social engagement by creating gathering areas inside and outside, which will help the overall community. So, members of the community can talk, engage socially, have a farmers’ market on the terrace and do tai chi in the morning.”
By bringing nature inside and providing for an indoor/outdoor community lifestyle, Luxelakes Crystal Laputa and Wuhan Tiandi Park Place create a sustainable environment within the Chinese luxury market.