Daily digest: Stefano Boeri completes a forested Chinese tower, Bangladesh’s Friendship Hospital crowned world’s best building, and more

Going Up

Daily digest: Stefano Boeri completes a forested Chinese tower, Bangladesh’s Friendship Hospital crowned world’s best building, and more

The first planted tower of the Easyhome Huanggang Vertical Forest City Complex features hundreds of trees and thousands of shrubs across the exterior. (RAW VISION studio)

Good morning and welcome back to another roundup of what’s going on today. With a major blizzard potentially bearing down on the East Coast, it’s the perfect time to stock up (on news stories to read this weekend).

Here’s what you need to know:

Stefano Boeri Architetti completes a “vertical forest” in China

Stefano Boeri Architetti has pulled back the curtain on the first completed building in the Easyhome Huanggang Vertical Forest City Complex, a five-tower complex in Huanggang, China—and residents are already moving in. Trees and shrubs cloak the mix of open and closed balconies across the tower’s facade and series of extruded boxes—the firm counted 404 trees and 4,620 shrubs across the first “vertical forest.” Once complete, the complex will hold two such towers, and the firm expects the plantings to naturally blossom and grow across the facade.

RIBA names Kashef Chowdhury’s Friendship Hospital 2021’s world’s best building

A $2 million brick hospital in Bangladesh, cut through by its own canal, has been deemed the world’s best building of 2021 by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The brick Friendship Hospital has been designed both with passive ventilation in mind and as a machine for retaining water in India’s dry season—an especially important task as climate change has increased saltwater infiltration in the surrounding fields.

Kashef Chowdhury, director of the Dhaka-based firm Urbana, explained to The Guardian that the complex was meant to have the feel of a village, with discrete buildings for each use that naturally divides up the programming without hard barriers.

H/t to The Guardian

The MTA’s plans to turn old subway trains into artificial reefs didn’t work

Whatever happened to the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) plan to sink more than 1,000 R-32 subway cars to create artificial reefs around the Eastern Seaboard? The idea was lauded at the time as a way to create artificial breakwaters and marine habitats, but as Fast Company reveals, they just… dissolved.

The idea seemed like a win-win; the MTA would save millions by not having to scrap the 50-year-old cars, and the reefs would bolster scuba tourism and fishing stock from New Jersey to Delaware. Unfortunately, because the trains were made of thinner stainless steel and spot-welded, corrosion set in at the joints and ocean currents were able to rip the cars apart.

H/t to Fast Company

With wildfires intensifying comes more pushback against new California developments

With wildfires battering the West Coast (an issue that will only intensify with climate change-driven droughts and heat waves), local governments and judges are increasingly shooting down new developments in wildland–urban interfaces. Lawsuits against developers looking to build in fire-prone areas are becoming increasingly common—and plaintiffs are winning more and more cases. A 1,000-unit project shot down in San Diego, a 19,300-home planned community in Los Angeles, and more are among the nixed projects the New York Times explores as it dives into how community and environmental groups are pushing back against unfettered development.

H/t to the New York Times

A judge rules against AECOM for trying to collect property damage insurance for COVID losses

Speaking of legal challenges, United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt has struck down a claim from multinational engineering and architecture giant AECOM, as the company was trying to collect $250 million in COVID-19 property damage claims from Zurich America Insurance Co. after shuttering construction sites and offices during the pandemic. Although the company’s policy covers physical loss or damage, Kronstadt ruled that contamination from COVID was not an applicable cause for reimbursement, though the company could still have a case in Louisiana due to how contaminants are classified there.

H/t to Engineering News-Record

Heatherwick Studio proposes another pier–park for Seoul

One “park on a pier jutting into a river” isn’t enough for Heatherwick Studio, as the London firm has unveiled a scheme for a star-shaped park in Seoul’s Han River, part of a plan to reinvigorate the area around the Jamsil Olympic Stadium. Similar to Little Island, the undulating park would use hills and valleys to carve out areas for gathering, play, and recreation, plus winding trails, and connect to the mainland via its own walkway. Of course, this is just a proposal, but AN will follow this project and circle back if it ever gets to the planning stage.

H/t to Dezeen