Integrated Living Makes its Mark in Chengdu
Newly-topped out Raffles City Chengdu connects with city's history, people and landscape
Issue: Nov 2011
Bearing the hallmark of the "Raffles City" brand, Raffles City Chengdu epitomises the fine blend of modernity with historical links
Known for its fine embodiment of Sichuan history in architectural design, the centrally located Raffles City Chengdu continues to surprise the city with its modernised, international offerings for communally living, working and retail entertainment.
Designed by renowned architect Steven Holl, Raffles City Chengdu bears the hallmark of the "Raffles City" brand which boasts an integrated lifestyle with luxury shopping, fine dining, high quality serviced residences, premium apartments and Grade A office towers all within one development. With the advent of Raffles City Chengdu, all these offerings will be available in phases from the second quarter of 2012.
The newly topped-out Raffles City Chengdu will be open in phases from second quarter of 2012.
Raffles City Chengdu, which marks CapitaLand's biggest and most architecturally-outstanding Raffles City development to date, has a construction floor area of over 300,000 square metres. Recipient of the prestigious LEED Gold Pre-Certification by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) for its green features, the development recently held its topping-out ceremony in September. The ceremony was graced by Singapore and China government officials: Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister,
Prime Minister's Office; Mr Lawrence Wong,
Minister of State for Defence and Education; and Mr Huang Xiaoxiang, Vice Governor of Sichuan.
Integration into History
Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan Province. A culturally rich place with a history that stretches back well over 2,000 years, Chengdu boasts several temples, museums and historical sites.
As a nod towards the city's cultural history, Holl designed Raffles City Chengdu to mirror Chengdu's different functions as a city, like a piece of a metropolis. The terrain of public space reflects the city's urban space complete with stones, trees and pools of water.
The organisation of this public space is inspired by one of China's greatest poets, Du Fu. Here, Holl moulds the area into "Three Gorges" that is reminiscent of Du's poem, "Time has stranded in Three Valleys", echoing the essence of Ba-Shu culture.
The towers surround a public space that features three ponds that symbolise time, which illuminate spectacularly at night
To evoke the passage of time, Holl uses flowing water as an analogy of time flowing by. The valleys that create three multi-level atria each ends in a pond. At the highest level, water is released into the pond from 12 openings that symbolise the 12 months of the Western calendar. As the water flows, time also flows past.
The mid-level pond makes a lyrical reference to time through the use of 365 stones, each representing a day of the year. Ordered in descending rows, the stones are arranged in groups of seven to represent the division of days into weeks. 24 cast glass cubes have also been inserted periodically into this design to represent the 24 seasonal markers of the Chinese calendar. As the water cascades down this thoughtful arrangement, time, as marked in the Western and Chinese calendars, is symbolic flowing by.
On the lowest level, 30 nozzles representing the days in a month spray water into the pond in different pre-programmed patterns. These valleys and ponds are then Holl's living sculptures, bringing Du's poem to life in modern times. At night, the shimmering reflection of the water and the interplay of lights make for a visually stunning display for shoppers to enjoy.
Recreating another aspect of history and association with the three gorges is the inclusion of a hanging ‘dragon' motif installation in the Dragon Gate atrium within the five-storey retail precinct. Named Dragon Gate, this is in reference to the former Dragon Gate Bridge (龙门桥) which marked the starting point of the boat ride up Daning River, the most spectacular tributary of the Three Gorges region.
(Clockwise from top left) Journey through Dragon Gate, a symbol of gateway to spectacular sights, and arrive at the retail precinct of the three valleys (Qutang, Xiling and Wu gorges)
From Dragon Gate, one arrives at the retail precinct designed after the three valleys along the Yangtze River – Xiling, Qutang and Wu gorges. These valleys shape and enrich the interiors of the retail mall by creating three tiers that organise the retail space. Continuity in design between outdoor and indoor is seen through the placement of atrium directly underneath the bottom of the ponds at the plaza levels. Such skylight promotes a sense of openness and neutral light to all mall levels, including the basement floors.
Integrated into the Cityscape
Famous for his gravity-defying creations that challenge conventions yet connects to the surrounding communities and landscape, Holl did consider such integration in designing Raffles City Chengdu.
"We were actively looking to create living, vibrant and integrated communities for the general Chengdu public. Indoor and outdoor public spaces, including educational areas such as the three pavilions (History Pavilion, High Tech Pavilion, and Du Fu Pavilion), are developed as social platforms for various levels of engagement," said Holl.
Raffles City Chengdu incorporates large public spaces to engage the community
As a result, Raffles City Chengdu's design deliberately invites the city in with its modern design. The five towers incorporate plenty of open public spaces and niches to meet the evolving needs of the city for communal gathering and use, integrating form with urban function. The three pavilions, two of which are designed by Holl and highly-acclaimed architect/artist Lebbeus Woods, are carved from the façade of the building and help to add to the porosity that is the hallmark of the development's design. The buildings are sliced through with sunlight and air, and allow maximum viewing of the city around as well as create multiple accesses to the development, beckoning the city in.
Integrated into City
Raffles City Chengdu's location at the heart of the city centre at the edge of First Ring Road along Renmin Nan Road, Wuhou District also integrates it into the city of Chengdu itself. All around it are sophisticated dining and entertainment options, quality offices, high-end residences, and trendy high-tech retail shops. The American Consular and other major institutions are also nearby. In addition, Raffles City Chengdu is directly connected to an MRT interchange at its basement levels which will link it to the rest of the city. In addition, it is served by several bus services and enjoys easy access to taxis.
In form and function, Raffles City Chengdu is a spectacular specimen of how buildings can integrate the community to the city, its history and landscape, enriching and invigorating city living.
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Raffles City Chengdu
No 3 South Renmin Road, Wuhou District,