Sometimes architecture appears as the stuff of dreams — take this office by Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza, built for the Shihlien Chemical Industrial Jiangsu Co. in an industrial park in China. It is an elegant, curved building, complete with green roof that sits atop a lake in an industrial park.
The offices of these soda ash and ammonium chloride producers occupy a 984-foot, white concrete curve, propped on an island in the middle of a one million square-foot artificial lake. Two stories of factory spaces will be connected by bridges, uniting a total of 118,000 square feet. It is called, not surprisingly, "Building on the Water" and is located at New Salt Industrial Park. The gentle, polite building is typical of Siza's Pritzker Prize-winning work.
Yet it is much more whimsical than most of his buildings. First, few offices are built to this standard by famous architects. Perhaps the high pollution risk of chemical processing is the impetus for the green roofs. Maybe the most interesting element of this project is the contemporary lack of limits on what we can imagine, and ultimately build, including offices on artificial islands.
From indoor ski resorts to manmade islands in the shape of the world, to replica European towns and ever-higher skyscrapers, there is no shortage of crazy, surreal architecture being built. In this case, it is an odd blend of sustainability and ambitious engineering that give a Siza-designed, green-roofed chemical HQ its charm.
"Mr. Siza has always upheld the design concept of establishing harmony between man and the environment," said Por-Shih Lin, chairman of Shihlien Chemical. "This building ingeniously blends with the waterscape and plant grounds. As the first project in China by Alvaro Siza, it will be an inspiration for future industrial plant designs in the country and is truly significant for that reason."
You really can't make this stuff up.