Steven Holl Architects' Horizontal Skyscraper (Vanke Center) wins 2011 AIA Institute Honor Award
The Horizontal Skyscraper is an innovative example of the large-scale, hybrid use building, which challenges the usual developer typologies. The building hovers above a tropical landscape, freeing it for public use and for a unique scheme of ecosystem restoration. People in the surrounding community have already begun inhabiting this new type of public space for leisure. By lifting the building off the ground, the project is both a building and a landscape, a delicate intertwining of sophisticated engineering and the natural environment.
Suspended on eight cores as far as 50m apart, the building's structure is a combination of cable-stay bridge technology merged with a high-strength concrete frame. The first structure of its type, it has tension cables carrying a record load of 3,280 tonnes. The project employs some of the most forward-thinking sustainable design strategies. It utilises greywater recycling, rain water harvesting, green roofs, dynamically controlled operable louvers, and high-performing glass. 1,400 sq m of photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of the building provide 12.5% of the total electric energy demand for Vanke Headquarters. Renewable materials are used throughout the Vanke Headquarters for doors, floors, and furniture.
On the selection of the Vanke Center for the 2011 AIA Institute Honor Award, the jury commented: "This project skips along from mound to mound and manipulates the landscape - it builds it up and shapes it into a powerful form above the land with inventive manipulation. The building is shading the landscape and letting it breath - integrated sustainability. A reinvented building type with the building floating over the landscape - dancing on the landscape."