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Raffles City Hangzhou

A Pertinent Context

As Capital of the Zhejiang province, Hangzhou is steeped in tradition with a view to the future. While the city’s heritage focuses on the picturesque UNESCO heritage-listed West Lake, its future points to a new economic, political and cultural centre orientated towards the river. With strong future ambitions especially concerning sustainability, economy and livability, Hangzhou is a city on the move. In the design of the two towers, the urban face of the project twists towards the landscape, while the landscape aspect, in turn, acknowledges the urban context. Through this, the urban context and the landscape of the city are consolidated in one gesture. The main entrance to the south of the corner site appears as a prominent gateway from the city park and civic centre, as it borders both the urban built-up context and green axis/city park that connects West Lake to the Qiantang River. Reflecting the movement in the river, the tower design features a wave-like motion. These concentric waves increase in their dynamism, starting calmly at the base and building up more vigorously along the vertical axis.

A Mixed-Use Destination

The architectural expressions throughout the building connect the combined programmes in one seamless flow. The 116,000m2 retail podium at the base of the tower begins this interconnected flow, organised as two diagonal and intersecting figure-of-eights. It accommodates retail, restaurants, leisure facilities and parking and has a direct underground connection to the metro. This wide range of mixed-use functions, not only provides residents and those working or staying in the complex with a healthy and socially integrated environment, it also ensures that programmes are active around the clock, creating a safe and lively neighbourhood for all.

A Spiralling Centre

Situated at the centre of the retail spine, a spectacular atrium forms the organisational and visual focus of the podium interior. The atrium is designed as a spiral of overlapping layers, creating seamless connectivity and extensive sightlines between the spaces. As a feature detail the bamboo handrail echoes the building’s curvilinear form. Winding its way around the podium as a continuous ribbon, it adds an element of tactility and natural contrast with the futuristic interior. From here two diagonal voids ascend seven storeys through the opposite wings of the retail spine. As an intuitive finding device, the voids guide visitors along each wing that spans almost 150 metres in each direction. Abundant daylight streams through the atrium and voids right down to the lowest floors, introducing a unique outdoor quality to the podium interior. Looking up through the skylights, the towers are always visible from the main atrium, changing appearance depending on the viewing point.
As the scale of the fluid forms transition from the architecture to the streamlined interior and winding handrails, this results in a cohesive spatial experience – as if outside merges with inside.

“Raffles City Hangzhou will be a point of confluence, a hub for business conduct and a new destination for visitors and residents alike; an ‘all-in-one’ destination for working, living and leisure in a highly sustainable environment.”

Ben van Berkel

Superliving

An “all-in-one” Destination

In light of the impacts of urbanisation worldwide, UNStudio posed the question: How can we utilise a dense, mixed programme as part of a transit-oriented development to stimulate sustainable living and improve quality of life?
Raffles City Hangzhou is designed with a carefully considered mix of programmes that bring together a wide range of users. Besides working and living at Raffles City Hangzhou, people can stay at the hotel, or pick up groceries, enjoy a meal, do exercise, watch a movie or even get married there, all in one interconnected environment.
As such it not only provides residents and those working or staying in the complex with a healthy and socially integrated environment, it also ensures that programmes are active around the clock, creating a safe and lively neighbourhood for all.
The project furthers the practice’s ongoing research into Superliving, in this case into (integral) strategies to create sustainable, healthy cities that offer a high quality of life, while addressing future needs for greater efficiency and density in cities in times of rapid urbanisation and growth. Looking up through the skylights, the towers are always visible from the main atrium, changing appearance depending on the viewing point.
Read about our ongoing explorations of this theme in the Superliving workfield.

Concept and Design

  • Sustainability
  • Facade Tiles
  • Facade Articulation
  • Tower Development
  • Circulation