ZHUHAI – Historically regarded as China’s ‘Garden City’, Zhuhai now poses to extend its reputation beyond its verdant, manicured topography. The city’s proximity to major metropolitan areas such as Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau lends the potential for a proverbial delta of culture and commerce.
Atelier 10 Design has undertaken this prospect with a 640,000 sqm mixed-use development - the Shizimen Central Business District - along the city’s waterfront. Beyond its convention and exhibition space, which encompasses just over half the total area, the facility currently offers retail, dining, hospitality and residential spaces. An additional 320-m tower of luxury office space and the St. Regis Hotel (set to open in June 2016) anticipates the neighbouring skyline of super-high rises certain to arrive in the wake of China’s notoriously speculative construction.
‘Commercial sustainability’, in contrast to this ephemeral approach, stands as the guiding principle behind the CBD’s design, according to chief designer Gordon Affleck.* Flexibility is tantamount to this sustainability in the most literal sense: a facility with something for everyone will constantly thrive with activity, i.e. will ‘sustain’ itself. Hence, an ‘urban ribbon’ - a serpentine public corridor linking the main Nanwan Road with the waterfront - through its winding motion partitions the remaining area of the facility into spaces ranging from theatres and music auditoriums to garden courtyards. The organic ridges of its surfaces emulate the structure’s sculptural environs. Thus, despite having similar projects rapidly underway in Chonqing and Pingtan, 10 Design maintains the pretense of a sustainability beyond otherwise indiscriminate, wholesale trendiness, a deliberate harmony with the city’s horticultural façade.
*Affleck worked for RMJM at the time of the 2009 competition win, but then founded 10 Design and continued working on the commission.