Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Qianhai Port City in Qianhai, China by OMA Architect
May 19th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Situated at the threshold of Hong Kong and Mainland China, Qianhai occupies a position of strategic significance in the Pearl River Delta. The planned intensification of transport through the site renders inevitable its emergence as a new center. The question is not whether Qianhai will develop, but how? If successful, a new city center in Qianhai could fulfill Shenzhen’s coastal ambitions and establish a node for interaction between various components of the PRD.
The existing use of the site consists primarily of infrastructure, transportation, and logistics. The operations of the port and its related functions define the quality of much of the site and adjacent areas. What if, rather than attempting to suppress or insulate these uses from new development, they are considered as latencies capable of forming the identity of a new city? Can the introduction of new urban conditions benefit from and reinforce the existing (port) conditions of the site?
The design organizes the site in a series of parallel bands running east-west. The irregular extension of these layers into the Qianhai Bay and Pearl River Estuary creates piers and increases the proximity of the city to the water. The layers form a stack of different and juxtaposed types of space, each varying in terms of architectural typology, density, and landscape.
On top of the layers, a circular loop of 3.4km diameter is superimposed to delimit the Qianhai Bay and relate to Shenzhen’s other center. Whereas the layers provide difference and diversity, the loop provides cohesion and unity. The loop is the glue of the city; it consolidates infrastructure, transportation, and circulation. It also intercepts and redirects major expressways to maintain the contiguousness of the Qianhai Bay. Within its 250m width, the loop contains a vast, continuous park and the most public elements benefiting from proximity to nature.
The masterplan envisioned consists of three programmatic anchors: logistics, education, and healthcare. The anchors are closely related through innovation and research, and provide the basis for strategic and economic cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. In addition, five other primary types form the majority of the program: residential, office, culture, retail, and hotel. The eight program types are distributed in formations that overlap and weave tightly with each other to generate a rich and diverse mix. In this way, every programmatic typology finds it’s most appropriate location and retains an efficient coherence within the whole.
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