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The cooperation agreement signed between Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea Protection, led to the construction of the GEL, acronym of the ‘Green Energy Laboratory’. It was designed by the Florentine architectural firm, Archea Associati. Created as a research centre and laboratory for the analysis and diffusion of low carbon emission technologies in the construction and housing sector, the GEL building is a plain rectangular structure composed of only two elements to create the general concept. The top, or third floor, is recessed in relation to the main block, with a steeply sloped roof to house solar panels. The outer shell of the building’s double skin is composed of terracotta elements designed to form pictograms common in the Chinese language. The whole complex incorporates these two elements in a strictly complementary form. The discernable aim of the project is to represent a symbol of intercultural cooperation between Italy and China, since both countries have a thousand-year-old history of energy saving and environmental comfort, especially in the field of residential construction.
The book, that includes critical essays, technical drawings, photos of the construction site and the completed project, illustrates the harmony of this structure through its perfect blend of tradition, architectural ingenuity and sustainability.