Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
United Nations Trade Headquarters in Beijing, China by MARK DZIEWULSKI ARCHITECT
October 5th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: MARK DZIEWULSKI ARCHITECT
This is the world headquarters for the United Nations trade body for INBAR and is the first U.N. headquarters inChina. Its goal is to define and implement a global agenda for sustainable development and it is dedicated to improving the social, economic, and environmental conditions of its members through the use of renewable resources. The project was received as a result of winning an international competition. The building is set at the focal point of the Wangjing Area, a new district inBeijingand it is intended to provide the catalyst for the renewal for the area.
The building was seen as a flagship for environmental conservation and sustainability. The objective for the project is an important environmental cause, since its mandate is to promote the use of renewable forestry products and their development as sustainable construction materials in developing countries.
INBAR is the sole international organization focusing entirely on development issues related to non-timber forestry resources for environmental conservation and poverty eradication. A sixty foot tree cut for market takes sixty years to replace. A sixty foot bamboo takes fifty-nine days to replace.
It is also a renewable resource that can be harvested on a large or small scale and therefore allows even poor rural communities, who may live at or below subsistence levels, to develop a viable economy that is also good for the environment. The organization currently has thirty one member countries: Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria,Peru, thePhilippines, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania,Togo, Tonga,Uganda, VenezuelaandVietnam.
The project was a collaboration between the Chinese Government and the United Nations, through their forestry commission. As the first such project between these political bodies it received much political attention and the Chinese premier, Jiang Zemin appointed Jiang Zehui, a senior government minister and his own sister, to act as the Owner’s representative during the design and construction process.
As an international project with high political visibility, it generated the impetus for an international competition, which allowed sufficient independence from government control to allow a radical design. It also meant that generous funds were allocated, which permitted the development and use of cutting-edge and environmentally conscious energy systems, as well as high quality construction materials.
The program required a number of distinct uses, which needed to be expressed as both independent and yet interrelated bodies. These included: the member state assembly chamber and conference center; the laboratories and technical development facilities; and the offices of administrative arm, the heart of the organization.
These elements find their expression in the final massing of the building, a composition formed from individual wing elements which are brought together in one overall composition around a tower. The forms had to be recognizable and provide a suitable symbol for the organization. It needed a landmark identity. The composition also creates a partially enclosed court on the entry side to create a suitably formal point of arrival for the cavalcades of foreign dignitaries.
The lacy openness of the tower element and the textures of its detailing allude to the form of the materials promoted by the organization. World Architecture magazine wrote of the design: “The U.N. offers a bamboo branch to China”. The slender, bladelike proportion of the tower element was designed to allow natural light to reach all the interior spaces, reducing power usage. The tower is symmetrical in one direction but has a directionality that gives it a dynamic and sculptural quality. All aspects of the building were reviewed for their qualities in relation to responsible environmental design.
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