Vincent Callebaut unveils ambitious sustainable mall concept

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The Wooden Orchids project, by Vincent Callebaut Architectures(Credit: Vincent Callebaut Architectures)

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Regular readers are likely familiar with Vincent Callebaut's futuristic output by now, and the Belgian architect is at it again with a new project that follows in much the same vein as its predecessors. The Wooden Orchids project envisions a large sustainable shopping mall in Jiangxi Province, China, that boasts solar and wind power, geothermal heating, rainwater recycling, and a design that's part-inspired by the orchid.

Wooden Orchids comprises twin buildings which sit very close together and are joined by multiple footbridges. Located on a plot measuring a total of 20,000 sq m (215,278 sq ft), they sport a total usable floorspace of 30,000 sq m (322,917 sq ft). Each building has three main floors, plus a mezzanine and attic space. It's a remarkably complex concept, and draws inspiration from various sources, including orchids, on account of its proximity to a noted local flower garden.

The northernmost building would include cinemas, a public library, a gym and restaurants, while its counterpart would boast 200 shops which promote organic foods, in addition to a farmers market. Customers would be able to visit flower tea gardens and partake in flower therapy, according to the firm. Though ample bicycle parking is available, cars are relegated to large multi-level carparks hidden underground.

Callebaut reckons his sustainable mall would use 70 percent less energy overall than a typical similar structure. The concept calls for a glut of sustainable technology, including rainwater harvesting, passive cooling, and a geothermal heating system that involves piping water deep underground.

Large solar panel-clad canopies would generate much of the electricity required, while solar hot water heaters would provide hot water. Wind turbines would offer some additional juice, and the large green roof would include vegetables and play areas for children. In addition, recycled building materials and recycled furniture would be used where possible.

Alas, the Wooden Orchids project received "only" an honorable mention in the architectural competition in which it was entered, and so its prospects of being realized appear dim.

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