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.
Shanwei Neighborhood Centre Design Competition in Shantou, China by AtelierBlur / Georges Hung Architecte D.P.L.G. + Partners
February 3rd, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: AtelierBlur / Georges Hung Architecte D.P.L.G. + Partners
The new Neighborhood Centre is a central piece of the community-oriented facility, a masterplan designed to cater to an entirely new work-live-play district along the main infrastructural artery connecting Shantou and Shenzhen along the National road G324. Situated within the Shenzhen-Shantou special cooperation zone, the planning incorporates a series of commercial, cultural and community oriented facilities to add leisure and entertainment and fun into a developing district. Amidst 10.36 sqkm area of high tech, science and technology innovation platform, emerging industries, and other entrepreneurial and agricultural based industries, these facilities are well serviced along the main arteries, which connect the various functional zones and living communities. The Neighborhood Centre and its environs are destined to become community hubs to attract users and promote interaction as well as a place to be for all leisure, entertainment and satisfying quotidian needs in living.
Located in-between the Sports Centre to the east and a cultural complex to the west, the Neighborhood Centre sits adjacent to a large community plaza. Taking advantage of this important public realm space, the Neighborhood Centre is a natural and fluid extension of the community plaza. It connects laterally and elegantly to other community service facilities. The public plaza moves from an outdoor experience to an indoor-outdoor experience through the Neighborhood Centre and creates a hub of community activities / functions that gives identity to this new emerging district. It reflects on the high tech– entrepreneurial spirit that defines this district; encourages social interaction on diverse levels amongst the users, young and old; and, ultimately, it creates a community destination point for leisure, entertainment, shopping and daily life necessities, day and night, 7 days a week, all year round.
Built into the fluid quality of the plaza space, the Neighborhood Centre is organized in a clear functional distribution. Together with the open public plaza, it forms the heart of the community by creating a sense of place and a community destination point with dynamic and active programs to suite the entire family from young to old. It offers community service functions on the ground floor, retail lifestyle on the second level, and entertainment and health related functions on the last two levels. The unique functional layout lies in the centralized zone where the active community amenities, such as exhibition-performance platforms, lounges, children’s play-zone, wall climbing areas, game zone, and other family oriented activities, are strategically placed. The various levels and multi-distributed spaces combine to create a “serendipedic promenade” of interactive community functions to activate the interiorized plaza space. These community amenities create a network of interactive platforms that bring users of all ages to the neighborhood centre in a pixelated in-between space of indoor and outdoor community. The blurred interior and exterior, the fluidity of the pixelated space, a mixture of air and light, all endow each function with individuality and interconnection.
The community plaza therefore plays two key roles. It is a gathering place: a public space that serves the community’s needs. It is also a breath of fresh space amidst urban context. As such, it is an active and dynamic plaza, an activator of the public realm. It flows through to the Neighborhood centre, activating the interstitial space and amenity platforms. It brings the plaza space inside the Neighborhood Centre, creating a natural extension of the public plaza through the complex connecting each of the community facilities together. It shapes the interstitial space of the neighborhood centre, influencing its spatial quality and experience.
Conversely, the pixelisation that occurs within the interior of the Neighborhood Centre inspires the landscape of the plaza. The plaza is a community platform where multiple activities are energized to take place. From morning to evening, the plaza is active with people and activities: musical performances, group dancing, cultural exhibits, tai chi or clear enjoyment of outdoor green space. Its landscape is derived from the interstitial space of the Neighborhood Centre. It utilizes the same pixelisation characteristics to form the hardscape and softscape. It is inspired by the pixel volumes of the interior space and re-creates it as an outdoor experience, forming an opposite and counter balance to the built interior. The pixel geometry is expressed as plant sculptures of various dimensions and proportion. Hardscape pavement design forms a coherent and complete whole between architecture and landscape.
The buildings and landscape of the Neighborhood Centre thus uniquely dialogue with one other, creating a cohesive and compelling experience of invitation. Transforming the exterior and interior with the same gesture, this new community landmark achieves spectacular complexity within simplicity of design, inviting sensorial experience and the warmth community in an iconic design.