Ruo-Shan Apartment Ⅰ
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2016 Good Design Award

2016 TRAA Taiwan Residential Architecture Award- Best Residential Architecture

Location: Hsinchu, Taiwan
Design: August,2008–December,2010
Building: April,2010–December,2013
Site Area: 2690.91㎡
Subtotal Area: 16028.94㎡
Concept, Design and Construction

Ruo-Shan Apartments, near the Taiwan High Speed Rail Hsinchu Station, is the second real estate development project by Banmu Architects. Living in harmony with nature is the essence of this project. By restoring greenery to the bleak cityscape, the project delivers a beautiful community that fulfills the needs of urban dwellers in a sustainable and eco-friendly environment.

Ruo-Shan, meaning literally "like a mountain", is a key concept of the design. Like a mountain facing a valley, the main building for apartment units, the tallest mountain, is placed towards the back of the site while the communal facilities, two low hills, are in front. A green belt starts from the front square, the foothill, winds around buildings, and goes to the rooftop, the peak. The front square, created by a 30-meter setback, is a forest of beech trees that provides insulation from city traffic. The forest continues to the second and third floor with plum trees and other trees. Beyond the third floor, trees are scattered into small gardens dotted on every floor and up to the roof. The green belt also drapes down to the basement levels, starting with a forest of Chinese hackberry trees and turning into green lawns. It creates a vertical opening through three levels of underground parking, and allows natural lighting and ventilation for a bright and comfortable parking environment. The green belt, with a total area exceeding the area of the site (ratio of green cover 150%; increased capacity of carbon sequestration 3.43), harvests many sanctuaries for urban wildlife.

Like resting spots, chairs, and shelters along hiking trails, communal spaces are sprinkled at corners of various floors to provide resting places along a footpath that meanders through the buildings. The footpath, metaphorically a hiking trail, starts at the basement valley, passes through the second-floor rooftop forest at the foothill, and continues to the peak, the top of main building where a reflecting pool, crisp air, and blue sky awaits. Returning home on the footpath is a cleansing ritual: the greenery loosens your mind; the easy strolling upwards relaxes your body; the sight of home through the woods and the resting spaces warms your heart; when reaching home, your mind and body are refreshed as a newborn.

Arranged as three equal-distance rectangles, there are three apartment units in a floor. Each apartment unit is an imaginary mountain hut where all activities happen around a fire pit. Here, family activities take place around a cypress dining table in the open kitchen. The kitchen has access to two balconies, a small one for herb garden and a big one for trees. The big balcony, with a sunken floor, is a family garden that can grow trees. Imagine resting on a rock under a tree, sunbathing with birds singing on a tree, contemplating by a small pond with a school of fish. These visions of living with nature are the visions of home in Ruo-Shan.

Nature exists at each and every corner of Ruo-Shan Apartment. The journey to home, the feature and aroma of plants, the warmth of sunlight, the sound of wind and rain, and the sight of birds and insects are all part of the daily memories of the residents. Ruo-Shan, although in the city, fulfills the imagination of living in the mountains.