The building that’s a breath of fresh air in Beijing

Article by Alwynne Gwilt

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“To see something like this in Beijing, which is notorious for bad air quality, makes quite a statement. It’s as if the architects created a whole mini environment, which stands apart from the rest of the city.”

As one of only around 1,000 LEED Platinum certified buildings in the world, the Parkview Green FangCaoDi in central Beijing caught the attention of Alex Ragland – JLL’s retail programme manager for Southeast Asia – due to its stunning design and its commitment to sustainability in a country where pollution is a major issue.

“It’s got some of the most innovative practices for air quality, light filtration and water circulation of any shopping complex I’ve seen,” he adds.

Built in 2010 and opened the following year, the 200,000 square metre complex is by and large a shopping mall, with two office towers and a hotel alongside. With a steel frame surrounded with a membrane of ETFE glass – one of the highest rated for sustainability due to its ability to withstand high temperatures, insulate against cold and vary its filtration depending on the outside light – Parkview Green FangCaoDi is the first structure in Beijing designed to be environmentally sustainable.

Despite being partially sunk nine metres below street level, it looms large on the street, with two nine-storey and two 18-storey towers. “At nearly 90 metres high, it’s hard to avoid if you’re living in the area,” comments Ragland.

Creating open space

Inside an expansive atrium gives it a feeling of space.  Added to this is a state of the art filtration system, which works by using ventilation louvres that let hot air escape out through chimneys in the roof. This system then creates an upward flow of air, pulling cooler air from the bottom of the building to enable air circulation. It also has an incredible focus on art that includes the largest collection of Dali works outside of Europe and numerous Andy Warhols displayed throughout the stores for all to see.

“The first time I went there it was for a meeting. But I keep coming back now because of the space, including its cultural element. What struck me most is that it’s completely enclosed but when you walk in it feels very open. It’s like its own mini world,” says Ragland.

The building has won numerous awards, even picking up MIPIM Asia’s Green Building Award 2010 a year before it had opened its door fully, making it the first mainland building in China to ever receive this award.

“There have now been a number of similar projects in China, but I do feel that Parkview definitely inspired others to follow suit, especially since the country has a target of reducing carbon emissions by half by 2020,” he comments.

The combination of the various retail and office offerings, sitting alongside the artwork within a sustainable environment has contributed to it being almost 100 percent occupied. “That’s a difficult thing in the retail environment and it marks it out as quite a success story,” concludes Ragland.

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