Shanghai is urbanizing at an incredible rate, with 11 times the floor area constructed from 2000 to 2014 as was constructed between 1978 and 2000. Shanghai has building and planning codes to manage the impact of growth and new density. Most typically this manifest as maximum heights, building separation, and residential daylight access. This regulations presented a challenge in the design of a new master plan, Crystal Plaza.

The master plan called for 3.2 million sq ft of office, residential, and retail to be design over five blocks being developed by . The constraints set by the building and planning regulations made it very difficult to fit the target area within the site. KPFui developed digital versions of the various city regulations that allowed for the iteration of tens-of-thousands of massing options to determine the range of master plan configurations that complied with the regulations:

  • Maximum Building Height: specified per block
  • Residential Daylight: bedrooms and living rooms are required to get at least one hour of direct daylight on the winter solstice
  • Building separation: dimensions determined based on use (office vs residential,) building height and orientation.

The requirements were integrated into a single analysis model:

 Diagram of analysis system

Diagram of analysis system

 Residential daylight access requirements. Window orientation and time range of acceptable daylight (left.) Visualization of passing and failing surfaces (right.)

Residential daylight access requirements. Window orientation and time range of acceptable daylight (left.) Visualization of passing and failing surfaces (right.)

 Diagram of building separation requirements for residential and office.

Diagram of building separation requirements for residential and office.

To determine a range of massing configurations that would comply with regulations we developed a massing model that could very within designed set of rules . For residential buildings we tested configurations with 8 & 10 towers and allowed each tower to vary based on the number units per floor from a point tower to a slab tower, to rotate +-30 degrees, and to change location. For office towers we allowed the floor plate size to vary, 360 degree rotation, and location change. 

 Residential massing range.

Residential massing range.

  Office massing range.

Office massing range.

We then ran a series of optimizations to test all possible configurations of the above massing variations in search of options that passed all of the city regulations.

In order to understand the range of performance, ie where we could place buildings that would comply with city regulations, KPFui generated a series of diagrams to illustrate the trends of height, location and orientation. Finally, these trends were distilled into a diagram that could be followed in the design of the masterplan. For some buildings, in particular the office buildings on the north two blocks, there was a high range of freedom in massing, but for others, namely the residential buildings to the south, the location was fixed.

 Range of massing options complying with city regulations

Range of massing options complying with city regulations

 Diagram of location, rotation, and height trends.

Diagram of location, rotation, and height trends.

Without the aid of these tools and methodology the process for determining compliance with city regulations can take months and testing individual designs can be time consuming. Instead it only took us two weeks to determine the range of complying options and set us up to be able to quick analyze future design options.