Satisfying a booming retail appetite
Expect fireworks when Raffles City Ningbo opens in 2011 to affluent consumers hankering for more
Issue: May 2010
Raffles City Ningbo: a new urban landmark
It was home to China’s first bankers, and the birthplace of some of the world’s richest Chinese – including film magnate, Run Run Shaw; shipping tycoons, YK Pao and CY Tung; and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp founder, Morris Chang.
Today, Ningbo is China’s second-largest port, boasting a residents’ disposable income comparable to that of Shanghai’s. With its affluent consumers ravenous for the latest buys, it’s no wonder Ningbo is now also home to Raffles City, CapitaLand’s leading brand of integrated developments.
Set to open its doors at the end of 2011, this one-stop dining, shopping and lifestyle destination will comprise a 52,000 square metre mall, a 30,000 square metre Grade A office block, and a 20,000 square metre tower for serviced residence units to be run by The Ascott Limited, a CapitaLand subsidiary.
“As one of the first mixed-use developments in Ningbo, Raffles City will become a new urban landmark of the city,” says Qian Yiqi, CapitaLand China's Deputy Regional General Manager for East China.
The building engages the city
The project is located in Daqing South Road’s commercial district and linked to a planned subway station. The 2.8 hectare site is adjacent to Summit Residences, a high-end residential development by CapitaLand.
Despite surging demand, Ningbo still lacks good-quality malls and leasing offices, Qian notes. That’s where Raffles City will plug the gap. Not only will the mall offer new and exciting food and fashion outlets, there will also be a gourmet supermarket, a cineplex and alfresco spaces.
“On top of the mall, there is a roof garden where shoppers can experience fine dining while enjoying views of the river. Office tenants and residents of the serviced apartments will have a taste of a new urban lifestyle within Raffles City Ningbo,” Qian says.
The architect’s perspective
Architect Stephen Pimbley has worked with CapitaLand on numerous projects including Raffles City Beijing, and the redevelopment of Clarke Quay in Singapore
According to Stephen Pimbley, of Alsop SPARCH (UK), the architects of Raffles City Ningbo, the development has a “quiet/slow domestic face and a fast civic face”.
The “domestic” side wraps a landscaped sunken public courtyard that helps moderate and articulate the scale of the building when perceived from Summit Residences, he says. The serviced apartment building sits on one edge of this square, taking full advantage of the calm environment as it is, like the square, shrouded from the ambient noise of the city by the mass of Raffles City's retail podium.
Meanwhile the animated facade of the retail podium and the office building engage with the city, and link the older part of the city across the river with the new developing city quarter that Raffles City effectively anchors. The proposed subway link below the office building will also cement this project into Ningbo's city infrastructure and help in the creation of a new shopping and business destination.
Style and spirit
Wavy layered ribbons akin to rock strata are used, says Pimbley, not only as an architectural device to break up the mass of the building facing the residential development, but also continuously in different ways throughout the development.
They have, in effect, become the project's leitmotif (its defining characteristic), tying all aspects of the development together, he says.
“This applied ribbon aesthetic is consistent in enabling each part of the building to fit seamlessly with one another, giving the building a human scale so often lacking in the ubiquitous shopping mall box,” he says.
The soft, friendly ambience inside the mall
The retail component of Raffles City Ningbo has soft, friendly ambience in line with the ambition of creating a family atmosphere. The selection of materials and the bespoke pixellated floral graphics based on Chinese water colour paintings used in public areas bear testament to this.
Raffles City Ningbo will proudly wear its Green Mark Gold badge awarded by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority.
According to Pimbley, the development “balances the spatial demands of the building typology with sustainable requirements. It is not over generous but, I believe, well-balanced and considered in a holistic sense.”
Excessively high spaces, although perceived to add quality and value, only mean more building volume to heat and cool and therefore could be considered as being wasteful and unsustainable, he explains.
“Yes, we have our ‘eco-friendly’ features as well – green roofs, water recycling, natural ventilation, good daylighting, etc. – but I would rather shout about the buildings’ more humble sustainable attributes and its resistance to the trap of the usual all singing and dancing shopping malls that are so demanding of huge quantities of energy to fuel extravagant unnecessary architectural gestures.”