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Thomas Heatherwick unveils 1,000 Trees shopping centre in Shanghai

British designer Thomas Heatherwick has unveiled a plant-covered shopping centre in Shanghai, China, that incorporates over 1,000 trees and 250,000 plants.


Named 1,000 Trees to reference its planting, the nine-storey building was designed to resemble a greenery-covered mountain.

1,000 Trees shopping centre in Shanghai
Top and above: 1,000 Trees is located alongside Suzhou Creek in Shanghai

Located alongside the M50 art district and the Suzhou Creek, the block officially opened to the public last month.

The latest images released by Heatherwick Studio show the exterior of the project for developer Tian An at night, as well as inside the building.

Planters on 1,000 Trees development
Trees are contained within large planters

The structure of the retail development was built with a grid of concrete columns arranged at a 45-degree angle to the river.

Each of the columns is topped with a planter that contains a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees, as well as shrubs and hanging plants.

Over 1,000 trees and 250,000 plants have been placed on the building in total.

Heatherwick hopes that the grid and numerous planters will help to break down the mass of the development that contains 166 retail units.

Entrance hall at 1,000 Trees
Columns that pass through the building are topped with planters

“1,000 Trees is inspired by the idea of making cities into social spaces,” he said.

“It breaks down the monolithic scale of a typical retail development into a multitude of human-scale spaces. I think it will be transformational for people who live and work in this dense residential neighbourhood.”

Retail spaces in 1,000 Trees
The building operates as a shopping centre

The building contains 62,706-square-metres of retail space across 12 flagship stores, 91 shops, and 63 food and beverage outlets.

A food court and supermarket are located in the basement, with shops on the five floors above and restaurants on the building’s upper four storeys.

Street food truck at Chinese shopping centre
Numerous food outlets are among its occupants

A series of artworks curated by French street artist Paul Dezio have been placed throughout the building. Sixteen artists were commissioned to create pieces that include a 40-metre-high mural in the elevator shaft.

Meanwhile, the street-facing wall of the development has also been covered in street art.

Dog artwork
A variety artworks have been incorporated into the design

“We wanted to create a place that brings together nature, commerce and wellbeing,” said Lisa Finlay, partner at Heatherwick Studio.

“It’s turned an ex-industrial site into a new destination exploring the powerful relationships between art, landscape and architecture.”

Shopping centre in Shanghai
1,000 Trees opened to the public in December 2021

Known as the West Mountain, the shopping centre is the first phase of the development on the site. It will be followed by 19-storey East Mountain, which will contain offices and a hotel.

The development is the latest building by Heatherwick Studio to incorporate a large amount of planting. The studio recently unveiled a skyscraper in Singapore with balconies overflowing with plants and a flora-filled Maggie’s Centre in Leeds, UK.

Heatherwick Studio is also behind the Little Island park and outdoor theatre in New York, and currently designing a “gigantic planted pergola” in Tokyo.

Photography is by Tian An 1,000 Trees.

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