Shanghai Cofco Cultural and Health Center, where culture and health meet in one building


La Cuisine International
Photo: Aogvision


The Shanghai Cofco Cultural and Health Center is an unusual building. Designed in 2016 by Steven Holl Architects, it was conceived as a social condenser that encourages the interaction between the residents of the surrounding buildings.


But in addition to its main mission, this structure has other important goals: to promote healthy living, cultural exchange, and to become a great example of sustainability. For the latter, the design team of Steven Holl Architects incorporated in this complex a series of measures that include: greater vegetation and open spaces, use of 30% recycled materials, centralized heating and cooling systems, CO2 monitoring, thermal storage and retention, and recycling of gray waters/rainwater. So its Shanghai Silver Green certification is no coincidence.


In other words, this work that is formed by two large blocks (a cultural center and a health center) is a model building by any standards and a proof of how architecture can be a bridge of spatial energy that promotes recreational and cultural programs in the community.


La Cuisine International
By Steven Holl Architects


Two for the benefit of one

The Shanghai Cofco Cultural and Health Center has an area of 7,520 m2 and its construction only took 3 years (2018 – 2021). Joined by a central public space, the Health Center (1,490 m2) and the Cultural Center (6,030 m2) are two exoskeletal concrete constructions with subtractive cuts that create an architectural language symbiosis.


These two buildings merge with the landscape under the concept of “clocks and clouds.” That is, the landscape is organized into large clock-shaped circles that create a central public space, and the buildings are like clouds in their porosity and openness.


Each cloud or building is unique. The Cultural Center, for example, has a transparent glass base that exposes a curved ramp that crosses it and that rises gently to the second floor, creating within it a continuous experience of views.


Being the larger of the two buildings of the Shanghai Cofco, it houses an exhibition area, board games area, cafeteria, library, gym, plus activity areas aimed at the community, and youth.


On the other hand, the  Health Center is also made up of transparent glass curves that allow you to appreciate the landscape. It has a health education area, pharmacy, physicians’ offices, physiotherapy room, ultrasound and X-ray rooms, nursery, administration rooms, and room to hold medical meetings.


Both have green sedum roofs, which further merge them with the landscape when seen from the surrounding apartments.


According to Steven Holl, this building that opened on October 16 is a sign that “to work on architecture for culture and health is a social commitment, much needed in our current moment, as we continue to feel the global impacts of the pandemic.”



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