In pics: China's city of mountains

TOBY JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2014

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No longer content with building rows of nondescript skyscrapers, Chinese developers are reshaping city skylines to look like mountain ranges.

Construction is under way of the Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Centre in the Jiangsu province in eastern China with completion expected in 2017. 

Designed by MAD Architects, the colossal development with an overall building area of 560,000 square metres marks a return to a more traditional Chinese aesthetic.

Referred to as a "live-in mountain range" by architecture blogs, the design stems from the Chinese shan shui ethos: a spiritual harmony between nature and humanity.

A series of mixed-use towers are joined by weaving corridors and elevated gardens. The buildings, some as tall as 120 metres, flank a low-rise village that is connected to them by footbridges.

According to MAD, the "towers along the edge of the site act as a mountainous backdrop, while water features such as ponds, waterfalls, brooks and pools connect buildings and landscapes to integrate all of the centre's elements".

Shan shui, which translates into mountain-water, also refers to a style of Chinese painting that depicts natural landscapes.

What MAD is calling "a fully realised shan shui city" is certainly not the first eyebrow-raising design from the Beijing-based firm.

Last year, construction of MAD's design for the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Springs Resort in the Zhejiang province was completed. The curved hotel rises out of Taihu Lake and resembles a glowing horseshoe.

MAD is also behind the curvaceous Absolute Towers in Mississauga, Canada, completed in 2012.

Although Nanjing is one of the earliest established cities in China, in recent decades it has been transformed into a modern industrial hub.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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