the 'roof in shanghai' by ASPECT studio and jean nouvel mimics li 'long backstreets

Jun 13, 2021

ASPECT studios joins a collaborative team behind a new lifestyle and retail destination, the roof in shanghai. the project, integrated into the CIFI xintiandi building by ateliers jean nouvel, offers a unique design infused with the characteristics of the traditional context of the chinese city. representing qualities of the backstreets (li ‘long) of shanghai, the roof carefully weaves its surrounding culture into its distinctive design, creating a model for future city spaces where people and nature thrive.

in 2018, ASPECT studios joined the project team designing the roof in shanghai, the architectural landscape and living façade design of the iconic CIFI xintiandi building by ateliers jean nouvel. while shanghai is one of the most modern cities in the world, the historic 100-year-old backstreets provide a completely different experience where there is much to explore and admire — one that is quintessential to the soul of shanghai. the project is defined by its bold architecture and living façades, sky decks and sky gardens, with plants everywhere, at all heights and depths. flowers, shrubs, trees, and draping flora form an extraordinary visual and spatial display. the whole place resonates with the feeling of nature and fresh air, adding a special charm to the city and neighborhood.

with the roof in shanghai, ASPECT studios reflects the DNA of li ’long backstreets, an idea which generates a place for people to co-exist and connect with nature on multiple levels. creating an iconic contemporary office and commercial hub, bordered by vibrant community and commercial spaces, the design respects the scale of the surrounding urban environment, yet has its own depth of detail and individuality. vivid red and beige brick frame the linear corridors, while an abundance of greenery in potted plants climb, cascade, and thrive on every surface, creating a biophilic environment that’s intrinsic to the li ’long.

across the roof in shanghai is a total of ten façades, which house horizontal arrangements and clusters of planting. each cluster is a collection of curated species suitable to its climate conditions. the clusters create an ever- changing seasonal display from the atrium to the outer façades. the façade integrations have strongly encouraged wildlife and pollinators into the heart of a dense urban environment, which creates a harmonious place for people and nature. at the top of the building there are two roof gardens with gathering spaces which are planted with trees that open out to the sky, creating a shared terrace that offers an open view to the urban skyline.

ASPECT studios shanghai studio director stephen buckle comments: ‘it was important that the design was more than a simple visual display of generic greenery and planting, instead it was an opportunity to show ‘what could be’ within the cities of tomorrow. to create a place, experience and environment that added balanced value to people and nature. the resulting design is a bold and unique response to culture, climate, and context, whilst realising a biophilic and biodiverse environment that responds to the needs of the cities people, a place to meet, work, relax and socialize and be embraced by inspiring qualities of nature in an urban environment.’