South Sea Pearl Eco-Island


Haikou, Hainan, China, 2016

Located in China’s South Sea, Eco Island is a vibrant City of Leisure and a key node on the maritime Silk Road. In UNStudio’s masterplan proposal, it is a unique place for people, where hyper personalised activities, leisure and learning come together in a natural setting. These activities are augmented by the latest technologies and result in a fully immersive experience for the visitor.
The Island is a modular platform in all layers of its built and virtual environments. Smart green, biomimetic technology and bio- productivity transform the island into a living laboratory for sustainable and healthy living. The gateway to Eco Island is the South Sea Pearl Cruise Terminal. With its enveloping geometry and intertwining central hall, the terminal shares the urban DNA of the island and creates the first and last impression of the island for visitors.
Eco Island follows a polycentric urban model with eight neighbourhood. All are mixed-use communities, each with a unique character and specialised services. The South Sea Pearl offers bespoke destinations that provide a variety of enriching experiences. From high end dining with locally grown produce, to walking through the island’s bio-mimetics labs, communal and fitness activities and retreats for individuals.
Movement around the island is a choreographed flow consisting of numerous walkways and the implementation of a smart mobility network consisting of driverless cars and a sky tram. At the heart of the island is the Tree of Life Observation Tower, located in the Pearl Peak neighbourhood. The tower – housing vertical gardens, energy trackers and offering panoramic views above the treetops – introduces the visitor to the wonders of the island.
Thorough a strategy of Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery (PPRR) the plan establishes a robust Resilience planning that is a matter of basic security for the island’s inhabitants and operations.


Client: HNA Infrastructure
Location: Haikou, Hainan, China
Programme: Mixed Use Leisure City
Status: Competition entry
Visualisations: Methanoia


UNStudio: Caroline Bos, Ben van Berkel, Astrid Piber with Mo Lai, Dana Behrman and Maria Zafeiriadou, Chen Hu, Oana Nituica, Tiia Vahula, Daniel Christiansen, Bruno Peris, Patrik Noome, Harlen Miller

Structural engineers and sustainability specialists: ARUP (HK)
Landscaping: Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl
Cost Control and project management: ARCADIS (HK)
Data and information systems: Frog
Terminal planning: AYDesign
Video and narrative: Digital Surgery