Dutch firm UNStudio completes its largest project with the Raffles City Hangzhou complex. Designed for the real estate company CapitaLand, the enormous complex consists of two towers connected by a podium and surrounding landscaped plaza. Raffles City is an example of a “sustainable urban hub” that fits into UNStudio’s focus on creating spaces for Superliving to enhance residents’ and visitors’ experiences with highly sustainable designs.
Located in the Qianjiang New Town area, Hangzhou’s new central business district, Raffles City encompasses a huge 400,000 square metre area across the two 250 metre high towers and the connecting podium and plaza. The 60 storeys of the towers include apartments, offices, the Conrad Hotel, and a rooftop helipad, while the podium contains shops, restaurants, leisure facilities, parking areas, and a direct connection to the local metro transport system. UNStudio describes this combination of living, leisure, and professional spaces in the complex as a “vertical neighbourhood and transit hub” in the centre of Hangzhou.
While the function of these towers is impressive, so is the striking design. The two towers soar out of the ground and twist around each other as compliments rather than mirrors of the other’s shape and movement. The reflective and sweeping surfaces are designed to reference the fluid movement of the nearby Qiantang River and to allow a further fluidity between the different programmes of the complex. By giving the buildings an east-west facing, the apartments and offices are allowed a lot of internal natural light while large skylights over the ground-level atrium let daylight flow into the lower podium. This podium is additionally coated in scale-like aluminium tiles that pixelate reflections of passers-by and give the large space a mirage effect in the middle of the city.
In 2009, the firm, headed by architect Ben van Berkel, opened an office in Shanghai in order to complete the Raffles City project. UNStudio’s other completed projects in Asia include transforming two urban blocks in South Korea and the National Art Museum of China in Beijing.