IDPA Japan Design Award

International Design Pioneer Award
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International Design Pioneer Award

Tower on the Ruins

by Shimin Cao

Project Description


Torre Rinalda, named after a tower built in the 16th century in Italy, was designed to protect the area from Saracen attacks. The tower is part of a defensive system that covers the coastline of Puglia, and similar towers from the same period can be seen in the area. We have transformed this location into a restored landmark and established a new public gathering space, bringing new life to these medieval walls. The tower is composed of two unique spaces: the lower part, made of rough stone, connected to the earth, and the upper part, a bird-watching tower that is light and transparent. The tower features a cantilevered lightweight steel structure and a white lattice grid. The design offers an experience from the earth to the sky, a dialogue between lightness and heaviness, and light and darkness. At an architectural scale, the design includes two completely different spaces: the lower box enveloped in the earth, dark and heavy, connected to the ground. This space is made of rough stone, contrasting with the delicate artificial structure, providing a space for contemplation and natural light display. The upper part is a bird-watching tower, light and transparent, with a cantilevered lightweight steel structure, steel stairs, and white lattice grid, aimed at blurring the boundary between humans and the sky. The columnar structure of the white lattice grid also provides nesting places for birds. The tower is connected to the road by a wooden deck, with light poles and platforms for bird resting. Wooden platforms around the tower serve as gathering places for people. At a large scale, the tower uses lattice components to attract birds. Adjacent towers are interconnected through bird flight routes. Additionally, at night, the upper part of the tower lights up, becoming a new landmark.

Shimin Cao


Shimin Cao is a co-founder and principal landscape architect of Studio Re+N. She holds a Master's degree in Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor's degree in Landscape Architecture from Tongji University's College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialization in Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD+C). She has a diverse academic and professional background in urban landscape design, artificial intelligence, and other interdisciplinary fields. She has previously worked at TBG and SWA in the United States, Nex-Architecture in London, and Ramboll Studio Dreseitl in Singapore. Her design projects have won international awards such as the A' Design Award and New London Architecture Award, and her artwork has been exhibited at the London Festival of Architecture and Las Laguna Art Gallery, among others. Representative projects include the Cairo Central Park urban planning project in Egypt, the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore, and the Royal Air Force Museum in London. Her research project "AI Landscape - Street View Generator" has received funding from the SWA GROUP in the United States.

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