The Chinese office of Stefano Boeri has won an international competition to build a Rehabilitation Center for people with disabilities in Shenzhen. The complex will take the form of a building that is both fully accessible and integrated into the urban fabric in the Longhua district, adjacent to an urban park and directly connected to the city’s light mobility system.
The construction consists of a set of green terraces and overlapping spaces in a sustainable system combining nature, architecture and biodiversity and including internal gardens dedicated to rehabilitation.
“Our project opens up a new perspective on the architecture of large rehabilitation centres,” says SBA founder Stefano Boeri. “This is firstly because it perceives the concept of motor and/or cognitive disability not as an example of fragility suffered by a minority of people but as a condition that is common to us all, even if only during one phase of our life. Secondly, it offers an idea of total accessibility to spaces and rehabilitation services and thirdly because in recognizing the extraordinary therapeutic quality of greenery and nature, it offers an astonishing amount of accessible green and open spaces dedicated to all different styles of rehabilitation.”
The Rehabilitation Centre – entirely dedicated to people with disabilities aged from 16 to 60 – is thus a pilot project for China with a pioneering concept of social inclusion and cohesion for the disabled. The building includes a wide range of functions such as rehabilitation, training, recreational and artistic activities, accommodation, education, and workspaces, and a museum. There is also a sports centre for competitions, individual and team training and numerous structures and training courses dedicated to the various disabilities – physical, sensory, psychic, intellectual, mental and multiple – with the aim of giving support and accompanying patients towards their newfound daily life.
“Though inspired by the dynamism and climate of Shenzhen, Stefano Boeri Architetti China’s intention was to offer a kind of architecture capable of offering the strength and stability of classic design. In fact, our rehabilitation center will be able to blend nature and landscape in search of the mature, safe and welcoming character of the city,” says Xu Yibo, partner at Stefano Boeri Architects China.
There is ample space for vegetation in the therapeutic roof garden which houses native plant species thereby maintaining continuity with the adjacent public park and strengthening the relationship between inside and outside.
The trees and plants, including aromatic herbs and healing plants are harmoniously arranged in the open spaces to mirror the changing paths and architectural volumes, thus becoming fundamental elements of the design. The green spaces thus conceived are integrated with advanced renewable energy production systems in order to satisfy the building’s needs as well as taking advantage of natural ventilation and collected rainwater.
“The project combines aspects for a rehabilitation centre in China that have so far not been investigated. These include architecture that is innovative and reassuring, the integration of green spaces in continuity with all the different functions and at every level, the desire to open up the structure towards the city and a welcoming and permeable building, not a fence or barrier. There is a need for a break with the past and the desire, shared with the local authorities themselves, is that of creating a new model. In order to do this, we will also make use of Italian excellence,” says Pietro Chiodi, Architecture Design Director of Stefano Boeri Architetti China.
The building, with an open public courtyard in the centre that acts as a focal point linking different functional areas and uses appears in its entirety as an eco-friendly hill facing the natural landscape and a healing environment surrounded by greenery. Accessibility to services and the comfort of spaces are therefore the keys to a project that challenges conventions and opens up a new perspective on the today crucial issue of disability.