The China Eagle Group (CEG), a Shanghai-based development company specialising in luxury real estate, was planning to build upmarket apartments for the growing affluent middle class in up-and-coming Yancheng, a city of over one million inhabitants. The brief was to provide European-style architecture and interior design.
The creation of apartments with a southern-facing aspect was key to the design, for only south-facing units would sell to the demanding Chinese clientele. The aim was to avoid the monotone, parallel rows of apartment blocks characteristic of China – and of the surrounding area, in particular – in favour of powerful buildings, each with their own individual character.
A clever arrangement of towers with plenty of south-facing aspect and little shadow
Above ground, the floor area of some 120,000m2 was distributed over three differently shaped tower blocks that are linked at ground level by a pedestal storey. The arrangement of the towers ensures that at least some of the rooms in each flat are south-facing. Based on a detailed solar analysis, the tower footprints were angled and their heights staggered to prevent excessively long shadows being cast on any of the blocks.
The horizontality of the façade strips brings the whole complex together. It’s difficult to make out the start of one building and the end of the next. Ultimately, they’re abstract structures.
Hugo Herrera Pianno
The result was an organic composition of three abstract sculptural forms that appear to meld together or split apart depending on the viewer’s perspective. Gardens on the staggered roofs offer breath-taking views over the city. To the south-west, the pedestal storey is immersed in the surrounding parkland, opening up only towards the street to the north-west, where the block entrances and retail space lie behind a two-storey façade. The pedestal storey also houses a conference area and a wellness suite for residents. These areas, which are recessed into the park landscape, receive daylight through round courtyards cut into the pedestal.
Façades deploy sculptural force to spectacular effect
The project is defined by its horizontally layered façades, their profiled concrete strips running in gentle curves around the buildings and underlining their object-like autonomy. The outer layer takes the form of an in situ cast concrete façade, with the glass façades set back up to two metres to create deep terraces. The closed parts of the inner façade are clad with black glass so that they recede behind the light concrete strips like the windows.