Hangzhou’s new financial centre is located at the confluence of two great waterways: the Grand Canal and Qiantang River. The Foster + Partners masterplan celebrates water as the historic lifeblood of the Yangtze River Delta, and the financial centre as an engine of future industry. Bringing together 560,000 square metres of high quality office accommodation with 240,000 square metres of retail, parks, a hotel and cultural venues, the new masterplan will establish a dynamic new ‘city within a city’. The design also features a museum dedicated to water – to celebrate the site’s unique location at the union of two important waterways, as well as its recent heritage as Hangzhou’s most important site for water recycling.
Working with elements of the existing masterplan for the site, the new scheme establishes a clear new order and a rational urban grid, comprising seven commercial clusters and two department stores. A main axis through the site is defined by a wide tree-lined boulevard, which runs from signature towers in the north to the Qiantang River. At the centre of the boulevard are public gardens, pools and pavilions. A crystalline tower to the west, adjacent to the canal, signals the new financial quarter. The towers’ facades each adopt an individual innovative approach to climatic response, allowing the individual character of each corporate headquarters to emerge within a coherent visual language.
Careful consideration has been given to the integration of retail, and the creation of a distinctive shopping and entertainment quarter that truly supports the corporate headquarters and business community. The luxury retail spaces are arranged over four levels around a sequence of courtyards and pedestrian streets. Each courtyard has a unique character, reflecting a different elemental composition. Terraced retail levels step back around the courtyards to create clear visual connections, and the light wells are open to the car parking below, bringing natural light into the heart of the scheme and making orientation simple and intuitive. Low level pedestrian links and sky bridges connect the courtyards, and a ‘super route’ has been subtly asserted – designed to draw people naturally through the site in a loop, discovering the new quarter’s rich variety of landscapes and experiences.