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What is the philosophy behind the Raffles concept in terms of design and use?

The philosophy behind the concept is to integrate mixed use in an urban context but in such a way as to give this concept a twist; by focussing on where the urban context meets the landscape of the city. In the design of the towers the urban element of the project twists towards the landscape, whilst the landscape aspect, in turn, twists towards the urban context, thereby effecting the incorporation and consolidation of these separate elements in one formal gesture.

How would you describe the architectural style of the building?

The project is transformative in terms of its infrastructure, programmatic and formal qualities. The infrastructural transformative quality is expressed in the shifts between the urban context and the landscape qualities present on the site. In terms of programme, the project starts with retail, then moves to office spaces and then to residential and to hotel. The formal transformative elements are expressed through the movement contained both in the vertical form - from the plinth and voids to the two towers - and through the twists in the horizontal planes of the towers.

How did the river influence the aesthetics of the building?

The element of movement in the nearby river is reflected in the structural qualities of the project, which we see as containing a wave-like motion. These concentric waves increase in their dynamism, starting with a calm movement and building up to a more vigorous wave along the vertical axis. Elements of flow and motion are hereby incorporated into the building as an integrated whole.

What innovations were implemented in the design of Raffles City Hangzhou, in terms of environmental and construction techniques?

One of the most important innovative elements is the aim to achieve the highest LEED rating through the application of inclusive sustainability. Inclusive sustainable solutions such as the details in the façade design, the incorporation of natural ventilation principles and the ways in which materials are employed, all work in concordance with one and other to lower the energy and material demands of the building.
Another innovative quality of the project is to be found in the construction techniques, which create a building with torsion in the skyscraper typology.

The site is situated very close to the Qiantang River, did its location necessitate any particular considerations in terms of building requirements and functional aspects?

One of the most important elements of the design was the consideration of the cultural strip between the Qiantang River and the project. The new building works as an anchor point within the Qianjiang New Town area, marking the site of the cultural landscape strip. The Raffles building supplies mixed use surfaces for all possible activities in this central location.
The site’s strategic placement and the mixed use concept were used as drivers behind the design. The programme mix creates a dynamic, continuous 24/7 cycle of activity. Raffles City Hangzhou is a point of confluence, a hub for business conduct, a new destination for visitors and residents alike. RCH will become an “all-in-one” destination for working, living, leisure and entertainment.

How do you feel the project will fit in or stand out from the surrounding buildings and environment?

Due to its particularly formal approach the Raffles building will have a very slender and sculptural quality which can be viewed in many ways from its surroundings, but which will also offer an equally changing array of views for its occupants. In this way the project can communicate on many interesting and varied levels.

How long will it be from conception to completion of the building?

We started with the conception when we visited the site in Hangzhou in March 2008. The design and construction are planned as fast-track processes, building submission will be handed in this year and expected completion of the plinth is in 2011 and of the two towers in 2012.

What impact do you expect Raffles City to have on Hangzhou City?

I believe it will have a sizable impact, as it is a project with a very strong identity and an individual character, which means it will become a place to which people would like to return. In the chain of events and attractions of Hangzhou, like the West Lake area and the commercial centre the Raffles City project will be at the core of the Qianjiang New Town area and contribute to the recognition of this area as a new destination in Hangzhou.