Zhuhai Urban Heart back to all projects
Zhuhai Urban Heart
Zhuhai Urban Heart
Zhuhai Urban Heart
Zhuhai Urban Heart
Zhuhai Urban Heart
Zhuhai Urban Heart

Location: Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

Project Work Status: Competition Projects

Client: Huafa Group

Project Completed: 2014

Serie London: Chris Lee, Kapil Gupta, Martin Jameson, Bolam Lee, Fei Wu, Simon Whittle, Andrea Wong, Andrew Chow, Michael Huang
Serie Beijing: Sun Qin, Baori Gele
Concept: between architecture and nature

Our proposal aims to strengthen Zhuhai's image as a coastal city and to consolidate its unique integration of architecture, urban spaces and nature. To achieve this, our proposal does two things: it brings an abundant park to the centre of Zhuhai and it intersperses generous sky gardens into the centre's highrises. As such, our proposal harnesses and makes visible the climatic and ecological signature of Zhuhai, promoting the use of outdoor spaces throughout the day and in all seasons. It is also an attempt to reinterpret the Chinese cultural conception of a harmonious built environment, where architecture and nature, hardscape and softscape, are always in constant alternation to maintain balance. This privileges the experience and use of spaces on all scales, from architectural spaces to urban spaces and to the expansive landscape. Our proposal deliberately avoids the cliche of making architectural form that looks like fluid landscape or mountains and water.

Green plateaus and city rooms
In bringing an abundance of park spaces into the project, we propose to literally continue Haibin Park and spread it across the entire project. This continuous landscape appears as a series of green plateaus, occurring on the ground level, the podium terraces on the third floor, and on the roof of the podium on the sixth floor. The green plateaus afford a continuous and immediate relationship between the park and shopping environments, and merges the transport hub into the coastal park.

Public spaces are defined as a series of circular courtyards that puncture the landscape while capturing the towers. The curvaceous form of the plan brings people from spaces of compression, gateaways into the scheme, to spaces of expansion, landscaped plazas. As a continuous series of circular courtyards, they act more like a sequence of city rooms, allowing clear circulation through the project and at the same time allowing spaces for gathering and respite. In combination, the plateaus and city rooms break up the gigantic shopping podiums often associated with China's mixed-use urban developments. Our design creates a rich urban fabric where public spaces are meaningfully defined with an abundance of landscape, and the city spaces work at a more human scale.

Bundle towers and sky gardens
The towers, rather than being single masses, are defined as bundles, slender volumes that play with the rhythm and proportion of the skyline. To slim down the volume of the highrise towers in this manner not only lightens their appearance to the city but creates highly inflected surface for cooling and ventilation. The central 330m super-tall tower is a matrix of volumes, a bundle of slender towers which allow bright and airy floor plans. Four sky-terraces provide structural enforcement and grand parks in the sky. These sky gardens, offers a special kind of open space for highrise living and introduces a new highrise typology for Zhuhai. In the super-tall tower, the sky gardens also act as programmatic breaks, separating offices, hotel and serviced apartments into three independent stacks. At these breaks, the sky gardens serves as communal spaces and provides for amenities associated with the three programmes. In towers 2, 3 and 8, the sky gardens are more modest in sizes and appear as long balconies or terraces, offering outdoor spaces for residential and Soho spaces.

Urban Design: city rooms and urban armatures
As the urban heart of the city, the podium is designed to draw, contain and expel pedestrian flows from its immediate urban context. This is achieved by the use of city rooms and urban armatures. The city rooms are circular courtyards of varying sizes carved into the podium. Each of the circular courtyard acts as a city room, for its ability to contain and capture the pedestrian flows of and events for the city. These city rooms are strung together to form an urban armature for the city. This urban armature acts as an artery, drawing and expelling flows from and out into the city. On the ground level, the armature links the centre of the proposal from three points: the junction of Jingshan Road and Haibin South Road to the north of the site and Haibin Park, the entrance of Zhuhai Museum, and along Jida Road on the south. On the 3rd floor, another connection is made with Haibin Park, bringing the park right into the centre of our proposal. Together, the city rooms and armatures form a unique system of open space, integrating Zhuhai City Museum, Haibin Park and Jida Industrial District. This three landscape axes form a clear urban connection between Jida Industry District, Nanshan Industrial District, and Shihuashan Park.

The biggest and most prominent city room, acting as an entrance plaza for our proposal fronts Zhuhai Museum and presents the "face" for the project. Three larger city rooms are strategically placed to mark entrances into the project - the north plaza marks the connection between Haibin Park and the street based shopping; a sunken city room adjacent to Haibin South Road and Haibin Park acts as a plaza for the bus depot; and to the south, facing Jida Road, the city room contains and frames the super-tall tower.

Our proposal for the facade of the shopping is deliberately calm and restrained to give coherence and visual identity to the project. The cladding of the facade - apart from the ground floor and 3rd floor - is made from acid etched stainless steel sheets, moulded into the form of a curtain. This material changes colour, from light gold to light purple, depending on the angle it is viewed from. The pleating and the polychromatic appearance of the facade produce a subtle animation that is visible throughout the day and creates interest and beauty that is fleeting and delicate.

Environmental sustainability: thermal comfort and energy conservation
Our environmental sustainability strategies are guided by Zhuhai's hot summer and mild winter. They are focused on creating a thermal comfort that allows internal and external spaces to be used throughout the day, and on energy conservation. Our proposal features outdoor spaces that are shaded by the podiums and the extensive trees. Large horizontal surfaces on he roof of the podium is made soft through planting to reduce heat radiation and avoid the formation of "heat islands". The city rooms contain not only trees but large shallow pools that serve to cool the public spaces for use during the day. At night, when it is cooler and when more people move outdoors, the water of the shallow pools are drained away to create a large amphitheatre for gathering and events. The water can be recycled or used for irrigation.

All the towers' facade utilizes a screening device to cut off direct heat gain from the sun. The bundling of the towers creates highly inflected surfaces to allow larger surfaces area per volume for effective ventilation and cooling of the towers. The various louvers also create a distinct architectural grammar that unites all the towers. By passively cooling the towers, the reliance on air-conditioning can be reduced and hence bring down the overall energy consumption of the building.