by , 01/11/06
filed under: Architecture


The urgent need for dense housing in China due to a booming economy and the displacement of many residents who resided near the Yangtze River dam leaves little room or time to design creatively. In this climate, Steven Holl Architects has created a welcome contrast to mass-housing compounds with the new Linked Hybrid development. The 210,000-square-meter complex contains more than 700 apartments, plus commercial spaces, a hotel, a cinema, a kindergarten, and underground parking.

Sitting on 6.18 hectares (that’s 15.27 acres) of land adjacent to the old city wall of Beijing, the eight towers which comprise Linked Hybrid will house one of the largest geothermal cooling and heating systems in the world. Water circulating from 100 meters below ground will be pumped through the buildings’ concrete floors, heating the complex in winter and cooling it in summer; there are no boilers to supply heat and no electrical air conditioners.

Linked Hybrid effectively forms a city within the city. The 20th floor of all of the buildings connect to one another via an open architectural ring filled with enough cafes and services to support the daily life of over 2,500 inhabitants. Plans for the complex include a “Garden of Mounds” – five semi-public landscaped recreational areas that will be monitored by electronic access through residents’ cards. The Mound of Childhood will be integrated with the kindergarten, the Mound of Adolescence will include a basketball court as well as a rollerblade and skateboard area, the Mound of Middle Age has both a coffee and tea house as well as Tai Chi platforms and tennis courts, the Mound of Old Age has a reading lounge and exercise machine park, and finally the Mound of Infinity is slated to become a meditation area with pavilions representing the five Chinese elements: earth, wood, metal, fire and water.

To give a sense of individuality and personal design to the residents in this new urban landscape, Steven Holl Architects has incorporated a huge variety of apartment layouts for the 728 different living spaces. Linked Hybrid, which began construction in November 2005 and is scheduled for completion in 2008, has been called “an ultra-modern expression of 21st Century living.” Indeed, we’ve never seen anything quite like it.

+ Steven Holl Architects

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  1. Quora December 13, 2010 at 12:11 am

    What is the most beautiful skyscraper ever built?…

    I’d like to suggest two more “unusual candidates”, both by Steven Holl: 1. The Vanke Center (Shenzhen, China, 2009) lovingly dubbed the “Horizontal Skyscraper”. Despite being dwarfed vertically by the required 35 meter high limit, it still stands …

  2. yang September 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Hi brennum4,

    I suggest you to look up the book called Architecture Spoken by Steven Holl and the official website of Steven Holl Architects. For Linked Hybrid, most people praise the design. You might want to also look for criticism. One example would be a CNN news report on Linked Hybrid. Also, as some people indicated, the implementation and the use of Linked Hybrid seems to be a contrast to some of the ambitious design. It would help if you dig into that.

    Good Luck!

  3. brennum4 September 15, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    If anyone has any information pertaining to costs, construction or use, could you please direct the info my way. It would be a great help.

  4. brennum4 September 15, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Yang,
    I am also doing a case study on the linked hybrid and I was wondering what information that you found. If it is possible could I get some info from you or could you help point me in the correct direction?

  5. yang April 30, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I am currently doing a case study on Linked Hybrid. Since the building is mostly occupied by residents now, I am wondering whether anyone knows how they respond to that. Do people interact with each other in the community? Is there any way I can get statistics on building’s green performance when it is in use (because most online official data is estimation)? Also, this building really stands out of its background. Does anyone have any opinion about that? Beijing being a historical city with profound culture, how do you evaluate Linked Hybrid in such a greater context?

  6. lakkakiisseli May 19, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Thanks for the article!

    It will be interesting to see if the semi-public walkways will strike a cord in the Chinese culture. Where Le Corbusier’s Unite d’habitation and other brutalists failed, perhaps the Hybrid will succeed. IMO, everything will depend on the culture that forms around the semi-public walkways. This is an irrational, social process that is hard to predict.

    Here’s a link to my blog article where I talk more about these things:


  7. TAT March 11, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Does anyone know about how some hotels are interesting in the towers and the bridges?

  8. Jill Fehrenbacher March 10, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Hey Tat! Thanks for reading! Other readers.. if anyone is reading this from this area, please get in touch with Tat Lam. Thanks!


  9. TAT March 10, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Hi, i am doing a indepth research about the community transformation about that area, i am looking for a resident to interview…through phone or email or in person. please helpppp

  10. chairman December 10, 2008 at 10:18 am

    I looked around the web. It is interesting Steven Holl Architect does not have any email contact window so that its end users can provide feedback for their improvement. Any one knows how to contact them via email?

  11. chairman December 10, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I am a new resident in this Steven Holl’s signature project in Beijing, Linked Hybrid, or Dance MoMA. It is wonderful to live in this eco-green geothermal condo except two things:
    1. lack of storage for residents in units
    2. the natural gas pipes are exposed to cook top burner, only two inches to the cook top base. Imagine when Beijing residents use Chinese wok to cook, the flame will be in contact with the unprotected gas pipe. I could not believe this is part of the design. I hope it can be fixed for the sake of public safety.

  12. verysmoothjon March 31, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    It is a sad day in architecture, when something so monstrous, even by western standards is plopped down, and built in historic Beijing. This represents a far deviation from anything I learned growing up in the west, and later to return to China — in Bejing. It should behoove architects of the stature like Mr. Holl, to keep their grubby hands of experiementalism to their own soil and territory. However, the ruinous nature of the architecture deserve NOT applaud, but HUGE criticism and outcry. When will we ever hear the truth regarding scale, articulation of surfaces, harmony of the parts of the whole, ethnography and contextualism? In building on ‘foreign soil,’ do we leave all principles regarding the integrity of the built environment and toss them out? Shame on this building!!

  13. Richie March 1, 2008 at 4:38 am

    Great design. Not surprisingly so from Mr. Holl.

  14. Naga Beton & Pasutr... October 23, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    […] Shanghai World Financial Center, National Swimming (Aquatics) Center di Beijing, Perumahan Linked Hybrid di Beijing, Dongtan Eco City di Shanghai, Stadion Olimpiade di Beijing, Jembatan Donghai di […]

  15. michael beardsley January 17, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    love the architecture! My business partner and I are looking to build new and exciting properties in Colorado and these fit the bill. I have a feeling we willn not be able to build them fast enough for the people that will want them.


  16. Alan January 12, 2006 at 12:20 am

    I must say, I’m not a fan of gigantic condos. In fact I hate them – It has no personality, like people were robots.

    But I recognize it is the only way to hold tons of people in enormous megalopolis, and this project is simply the best thing I have ever seen or heard or read. Not for the geothermal structure or the beautiful architecture, but for one simple fact:

    The ones who live there won’t feel depressed when they get home, they won’t see 700 apartments looking exactly the same way in 4 huge gray blocks called “buildings.” It’s the first project of its kind that gives the dwellers some dignity.

  17. Julie January 11, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    In architecture, one wants to consider not only the building’s siting, but also the siting of each individual space inside, and how it will interact with the natural conditions of sun, shade, wind. In a large building, the individual space goes by the wayside; not an issue only with Holl’s work but also with almost any large-scale project.

    Bearing these criticisms in mind, there’s only so much one can do when it comes to high-density housing, and Holl seems to be making the best of it… The public spaces look decent, giving a sense of place. The living quarters also seem pleasant. Not everyone will get a lovely view, and some may be in shadow for most of the day because of the bridges. The flexibility aspect of the apartments brings his Fukuoka housing project to mind. The siting, skin, and forms of the buildings set them up as a group without looking like a compound of identical projects (such as those demolished in the last years near Sox Park in Chicago).

    I’d love to see the surrounding site and what drove the placement of the buildings. Who can hate green roofs (soccer anyone?).

    Everyone take note – geothermal isn’t just earth-friendly but cost effective. Corporate campuses use it regularly – they’ll be around long enough to reap the benefits.

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