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Description:

Location: Yellow River Estuary Ecological Tourism Zone, China.
Function: Tourist Center
Targeted Certification: LEED Gold

Project Background: The estuaries of the world's great rivers are home to some many of the world's valuable ecosystems. The vast areas where fresh and salt water mix are home to an incredibly rich fauna. The same is true of the flora which also plays a critical as some of the world's greatest filters and purification systems. This is especially true of the Huang He (Yellow) river basin.
Historically, areas of this type have been faced with a special conundrum. In order to protect them, they must be understood. In order to be understood, they must be visited. Therefore, how does one enable millions of people to visit and learn about these areas without destroying them in the process?

The Yellow River Tourist Center sets out to answer this conundrum. Additionally, it sets out to address yet another challenge: that of creating Architecture that is both modern yet contextual.

Strategies: The Architect's first response to modern vernacular design was that of creating clusters and courtyards. In terms of clustering, the challenge was to balance the need for an enormous building and a connection to the surrounding wetland. The courtyard approach was used to help protect the building against the harsh winters of Shandong province.
Although the building looks counter-intuitive in terms of passive solar design - it runs in north-south bands as opposed to east-west bands - the courtyards are used to maximize passive solar gain for a series of 'smaller' buildings. In other words, the Architectural form was created by linking several 'smaller' south facing buildings with protected courtyards. The resulting south facing spaces are mostly home to public functions as well as offices. Only one of the south facing areas is home to a service block (washrooms).
The theme of staggered rectangles - which can be found in everything from the plan to the elevations - was borrowed from the mosaic of farming plots that can be found everywhere in the area bordering the wetland.

The challenges for the landscape were the same as for the architecture. Consequently, the constructed wetland took the form of a similar mosaic pattern. Here, the emphasis was on creating a landscape that was functional, a sort of designed wetland allowing people to explore and bridge the gap between built and non-built.
The idea of exploration was also extended to the green roof, where paths will be included in order to provide access to visitors.

More strategies can be found below. The project is targeting LEED Gold, which requires 60-80 points, not all of which have been identified as of yet. Listed below are the ones that are currently being targeted.

Sustainable Sites: 9 points
The project features an extensive green roof designed to help control storm water in terms of quantity and quality. The parking area will be paved with pervious bricks or pervious pavement, allowing a percentage of rainwater to filter back into the ground. Both the green roof and the parking strategies are also designed to help minimize the heat island effect in summer. Other targets include:

Public transportation Access
Bicycle Commuting
Low-Emitting and Fuel-Efficient Vehicles
Parking Capacity
Site Development - Maximize Open Space
Stormwater Design - Quantity Control
Stormwater Design - Quality Control
Heat Island Effect - Nonroof, 25% Under Cover
Heat Island Effect - Roof
Light Pollution Reduction

Water Efficiency: 6 points
Water from the green roof will be combined with gray water from the building and used for irrigation. Of course, low-flow sanitary ware will be used throughout the project. Other targets include:

Water Efficient Landscaping - Reduce by 50%
Innovative Wastewater Technologies
Water Use Reduction by 30%

Energy and Atmosphere: 10 points
The south-facing protected courtyard approach is a key component of optimizing energy performance. This will be combined with the insulation and thermal mass provided by the insulated rammed-earth walls, as well as the added insulation provided by the green roof. Mechanically, a geothermal system will also contribute to energy optimization. Renewable energy will include solar, wind and methane produced from organic waste. Other targets include:

Optimize Energy Performance by 22% for New Buildings
On-Site Renewable Energy: 9%
Enhanced Refrigerant Management
Measurement and Verification

Materials and Resources: 3 points
The largest material feature of the project are the rammed-earth walls. Other targets include:

Construction Waste Management: 50% Recycled or Salvaged
Recycled Content: 10%
Regional Materials: 10%

Indoor Environmental Quality: 7 points
Optimizing daylight and views to the outdoors were important considerations of the design. The random array of windows serve to frame unexpected views of the outdoors, create a more organic lighting pattern and keep the overall amount of glazing low. The project will also be prioritizing healthy materials. Other targets include:

Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring
Increased Ventilation
Construction IAQ Management Plan - During Construction
Construction IAQ Management Plan - After Construction
Low-Emission Materials including Adhesives & Sealants, Paints & Coatings
Controllability of Systems - Lighting and Thermal Comfort
Thermal Comfort - Design
Thermal Comfort - Employee Verification
Daylight and Views - Daylight
Daylight and Views - Views
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