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1000 trees
Photograph: Jono Photography /

This quite ridiculous tree-covered building has just sprung up in China

Thomas Heatherwick is at it again, this time planting 1,000 trees on top of a vast restaurant and museum complex in Shanghai

Sophie Dickinson
Written by
Sophie Dickinson

How do you make a big, blocky grey building that little bit prettier? Stick a load of trees on the side, that’s what. At least, that’s the approach taken by Heatherwick Studio – famous for the floating Little Island park in New York and the never-completed Garden Bridge in London – which has just unveiled this pretty impressive structure in Shanghai.

The building – named 1,000 Trees – been slated as a twenty-first century ‘hanging gardens of Babylon’, although that might be overselling it a bit. The most notable thing about it is that it has one thousand concrete pillars that double up as giant tree planters on its façades. Eventually the interior will hold restaurants, museums and galleries, which is also, admittedly, pretty cool.

Only one section of the 300,000-square-metre complex has opened so far, with further parts set to be unveiled in stages over the coming months. Wondering how the trees are going to grow? Intricate watering systems have been built into the walls of the pillars. Very clever. And equally interesting is the fact that 70 different tree species have been picked – making the structure sort of like one big, free, urban botanical garden.

Once the various sections of the building have opened to the public, the architects intend to add a load of actual ‘hanging gardens’ to the structure. Eventually the building’s two ‘peaks’ will be connected by a covered pedestrian walkway, too. So while London never got its much-hyped garden bridge, it looks like China actually will. Lucky them, we suppose?

More cool buildings:

This shiny new capsule hotel has just landed in the Spanish desert

Ooh là là! Paris is getting a massive triangle-shaped skyscraper

This huge forest-topped salad bowl is the world’s first public art depot

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