The Wooden Orchids Mall

The ‘Wooden Orchids’ is a Mall on the southern shore of the Yangtze river in China designed by architect Vincent Callebaut. It aims to create a new eco-responsible shopping mall, while maintaining a tourist destination that combines passive bioclimatic principles and renewable energy technology.

The mall uses the principles of biomimicry, inspired directly from the petals of an orchid flower and designed as repetition of a basic designed module. Making use of the natural order of Fibonacci numbers, it develops a hierarchy and flow of spaces and places, resulting in the right balance between solid and void, and between shadow and light.

The structure of the mall allows two different architectural approaches: the northern lot promotes an additive architecture and the southern lot a subtractive architecture. The former includes the movie auditoriums, the public library, the physical exercise facility and the food services allowing solid facades, and the southern lot integrates shops that promote organic food, ecological products and farmers market, allowing transparent facades. The structure as well incorporates many open spaces to allow the maximum light and ventilation possible. The external spaces open out toward the street and create a series of very unique garden squares.

The Wooden Orchids Mall

Wooden Orchids incorporates sustainable design principles such as:

  • low-carbon transportation
  • green infrastructure such as roofs and walls that help reducing the building’s temperature, and live walls that purify and reuse grey water
  • renewable energy sources such as a geothermal (heat from the earth) energy to heat water and massive solar canopies, and wind turbines on the rooftop
  • natural building materials
  • daylight through a south-facing orientation.

Vincent Callebaut’s design won an honorable mention in the International Union of Architects’ (UIA) Mount Lu Estate of World Architecture Competition. In the architect’s own words:

“Sustainability of Nature and Diversity of Culture are the two pillars of this Chinese pioneer 2.0 shopping hub switching from the linear economy to the circular economy!”