Split across two sites beside the city's M50 arts district, 1,000 Trees will comprise two mountain-like peaks that contain a mix of retail, offices, eateries, event venues and galleries.
The latest images unveiled by Heatherwick Studio reveal that the first "mountain", which is set to open in 2020, is nearing completion.
As its name suggests, 1,000 Trees is distinguished by hundreds of plants that emerge from its staggered, pixellated surface.
The trees are housed in giant planters that sit on top of structural concrete columns placed across the mountain. The photos show that there are three different sized plant pots.
"We chose to express the structure and develop a strong identity to the columns as we knew they would be present in all the programmatic uses of the building," said Heatherwick Studio's partner Lisa Finlay.
"We see the planters as natural extensions of the columns, almost like a shoot that has worked its way through three levels of car park, eight levels of retail, and then up and out to the roofscape to blossom," she told Dezeen.
Each planter is complete with a handmade-like finish, which the studio designed "to achieve a rich and interesting texture" from both a distance and up close.
"As a studio we are really interested in materiality and a lot of research went into the planters themselves so that they would serve as structure but also have an architectural identity throughout the building, and give interest at human scale," Finlay explained.
"The solution we came up with was an undulating ripple design where convex curves merge into the concave ones, creating a surface that changes and appears randomised, although it is actually repeated throughout."
Collectively, the planters contain approximately 25,000 individual plants and 46 different plant species including shrubs, perennials, climbers.
Each planter has a unique combination of plants sourced from Shanghai's Chongming Island, a fertile strip of land within the Yangtze river delta, and more than half of them are evergreen "to ensure a lush green building throughout the year".
The images have also revealed the mountain's grey and green-granite facade for the first time, which is designed to form a backdrop to the planters.
"We selected a grey-green granite to form a backdrop to the fair-faced concrete of the external columns and the many hues of green on the planters," Finlay told Dezeen.
"We also emphasised horizontal striations, reminiscent of sedimentary rock, with layers of texture formed from a single type of granite, treated with different finishes, from rough flamed through to a near polish."
On the mountain's southern facade, the photos reveal a contrasting art wall that is lined with billboards and street art, which Heatherwick Studio has developed in collaboration with local and international graffiti artists.
Unlike the rest of the mountain's pixelated massing, it is flat to appear as though the mountain has been "sliced open as if to reveal the activity inside".
"Along that road there used to be a long graffiti wall where people would travel from all over to paint there so we wanted to retain this aspect somehow," said Finlay.
"Graffiti artists, both local and international, including some who used to paint there, were commissioned to create original artworks for the facade. We also collaborated with these artists and others from the M50 for aspects of the interior as well, including giant murals within the lift shafts."
Once complete in 2020, the first mountain will incorporate ten levels of mixed-use facilities that envelop several large atriums that bring natural light deep into its core.
These giant voids will connect to a number of outdoor terraces that envelop the building that will cascade down to a new public park and walkway that the studio is developing along Suzhou Creek.
This is hoped to provide "a much needed oasis from the hyper-dense, highly congested residential area".
Heatherwick Studio first unveiled its proposal for 1,000 Trees, commissioned by the Chinese developer Tian An China, in 2015.
The second mountain will be larger and "programmatically more diverse" and connect with the first mountain via an enclosed link bridge, tunnel and ground floor drop-off.
The development's second phase will also involve more landscaping, including a 900-metre-long stretch of riverside public space and 12,000-square-metre landscape park that will include a jogging path, sculpture garden and series of outdoor event spaces.
Heatherwick Studio was founded in London by British designer Thomas Heatherwick, who ranked at number 18 on Dezeen Hot List in 2017.
Elsewhere in Asia, the studio is currently developing its first residential project in Singapore called Eden, also set for completion in 2020, and a new terminal for Singapore's Changi Airport with KPF.
Photography is by Qingyan Zhu.
Architect: Heatherwick Studio
Local architect: MLA Architects (HK) Ltd
Client: Tian An China Investments Company Limited
Structural engineer: Arup
Local landscape architect: Urbis
Main contractor: Shanghai Construction No. 1 (Group) Co. Ltd
Facade contractor: Shanghai Liaosheng Curtain Wall Engineering Co. Ltd
Facade consultant: EFC Engineering Co. Ltd, Wah Heng Glass and Aluminium Products (Shanghai) Ltd
Landscape contractor: Shanghai Jia Yuan Landscape Engineering Co. Ltd
Interior contractor:Shanghai Dong Ni Architectural Decoration Co. Ltd
Lighting consultant: Speirs and Major Associates, LEOX Design Partnership