SHANGHAI AND WUHAN, CHINA
1-5 MILLION SQUARE FEET
DESIGN PRINCIPAL AT
The China Mixed-Use planning projects comprise several large planning efforts undertaken in 2009 and 2010 in the major Chinese cities of Shanghai and Wuhan. These projects typically ranged from 1,000,000 to 5,000,000 square feet and are all urban core revitalization developments which include housing, commercial, hospitality, retail, and entertainment.
China’s real-estate boom, headlined for its rapid and bottomless-pocket growth, has been equally noted for the many associated consequences. Many developers, for instance, have tried copying Western aesthetics by hiring U.S. and European design firms to create ever newer, flashier, and outlandish architecture—often without serving a purpose. From an architectural and planning perspective, we sought to join design and purpose to rectify the superficial concepts that heralded the creation of many large uninhabited developments. In an effort to create lasting value, we developed a planning strategy that acknowledged the desired connections to Western culture without overtly mimicking forms and shapes.
Our strategy was inspired by Western influences that Chinese developers continually strive to imbue in their projects; instead of directly transferring an architectural style, we layered specific attributes from contemporary Western artists into a unified vision that fits the
community as well as each building’s specific purpose. By using Western art as an inspiration, the opportunity for unique designs emerged that was flexible enough to suit the needs of each location. The result was beautiful, contemporary buildings and spaces rich with purpose.
We began our strategy by identifying and studying each master who resonated with our client. We distilled spatial relationships, orientation, materiality, and contextual associations in works by Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, and James Turrell. These attributes were then uniquely translated into forms directly influenced by the building’s program, size, geographical location, solar orientation, and need. This strategy allowed us to create a community character which also provided a visual distinction among buildings as it relates to each site’s purpose.
It is our belief that architecture is more than skin deep. Even during economic climates that support rapid development, efforts should be made to instill depth and meaning into design. Our approach provided our developer, OCT Development, with a fresh, unique product, resulting in high demand, pre-sales, and positive interest in the properties.