Transforming the north Bund
In less than a decade the area around Daming Lu, on Shanghai's north Bund area, has gone from working-class marketplace to first-class destination, home to some of Shanghai’s most ambitious projects.
When Hyatt on the Bund appeared here in 2007, it was an awkward satellite, as much a part of the Bund as the Westin Bund Center (read: not at all).
But, Phase II of the north Bund revitalization project -- the conversion of 4,000,000 square feet that began nearly a decade ago -- is finally taking shape, making the Hyatt on the Bund and the area around it the hub of "New Hangkou District," as the city is marketing it.
Although the area’s most conspicuous resident will be the 1,050-foot Magnolia Plaza by SOM, slated for completion in 2012, but it's oddly enough the cruise terminal that has people talking.
When the [cruise terminal] is completed we’ll see firms that engage in shipping, finance companies and associations such as the Shanghai Shipping Exchange moving into the area.— Yu Beihua, governor of Hongkou District
More than “One Drop Water”
But this stretch of the Huangpu is all about cruising -- the shipping kind.
Some 2,000 shipping companies have rebuilt their headquarters along Dongdaming Lu, with RMB 30 million in capital to attract more large companies, according to the Hangkou District government.
Two years ago the Shanghai Port Cruise Terminal, nicknamed One Drop Water for its shape and blue-tinted glass facade, started taking customers.
Already in the final stages of construction, with a tentative soft opening in early February, the multi-billion-yuan cruise terminal consists of a six-building colored-glass “chorus line” flanking the distinctive “Shanghai chandelier:” three dangling pods housing a bar, restaurant and exhibition space.
The 2,500-foot stretch of waterfront is ringed by green space and fronted by a 1,300-foot-long public boardwalk that will, eventually, connect with the Waibaidu Bridge.
A metro station and tunnel to Pudong will open with the launch of the Magnolia Tower.
Bolstered by such public amenities, Sparch and its client He Bin Wu, executive director of Sinochem, expect the terminal to become a “maritime gateway” to Shanghai.
More than 1.5 million passengers should pass through in the first year, from the three 80,000-tonne cruise ships the port can accommodate.
(Click "NEXT" to continue reading about how the Shanghai International Cruise Terminal is leading the north Bund's transformation)
A not so welcome response
The terminal has already been the butt of jokes, mostly by bloggers knocking its cartoonish contours, child-friendly candy colors and ill-planned location.
But, “eggchitecture” is Sparch’s MO.
The practice -- a spin-off of London’s Alsop -- has a reputation for alien “freeforms” and aggressive colors. (See Singapore’s Clarke Quay and Ningbo Book City.)
The client wanted something special. The colors represent the different personalities of the forms. We tested patterns until the composition represented what the form was doing.— John Curran, Sparch director of the Shanghai International Cruise Terminal project
Creating a “love it or hate it” dialogue was part of the point.
“The client wanted something special,” says Sparch’s John Curran, director of the project. “The colors represent the different personalities of the forms. We tested patterns until the composition represented what the form was doing.”
Curran describes the glass-clad “portal frame” around the pods as a “city stage” with its own viewing platform and a large screen that can be pulled down for projections. In front of that is the public walkway, which will double as a performance space and lead to art galleries, a winter garden and a series of ground-level restaurants.
“Below ground is parking, conference and retail spaces,” says Curran. “We’ve opened it up with a series of sunken courtyards, so wherever you are, you’ll have a sight line to a garden.”
In addition to critics of the design, some believe the terminal is poorly placed as major cruise ships won’t be able to use it since the river is too narrow and the Yangpu bridge too low, but the building's designers and the city have brushed off the accusations.
More than just a terminal
One of the goals of the scheme is for the north Bund to form a “golden triangle” with the old Bund and Lujiazui.
“When the [cruise terminal] is completed we’ll see firms that engage in shipping, finance companies and associations such as the Shanghai Shipping Exchange moving into the area,” Yu Beihua, governor of Hongkou District, told China Business Weekly.
But it will also set a precedent for green, sustainable architecture on Shanghai’s waterfront, starting with the layout, half of which was sacrificed for green spaces.
The buildings share a network of tinted skins and ventilated atria that protect them from heat.
And by day, says Curran, "you will not need to put on a single light switch."
He also piloted a river water cooling system, which will draw water from the Huangpu and combine it with an HVAC system, greatly reducing energy consumption.
“And,” says Curran, “where else do you see that in Shanghai?”