Located in Yinggang East Road, Qingpu, Shanghai, BU Center is optimally situated near the city’s West transportation hub, with the Shanghai Hongqiao Station and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport two stops away via the city metro line. It is also in close proximity to key attractions, such as the Hongqiao World Center, also by Aedas, and the National Convention and Exhibition Center.
The primary design objectives are to design a retail hub that integrates a plethora of functions, office spaces, commercial and hotel facilities; as well as to promote an innovative office experience and urban lifestyle with extensive public spaces. The mixed-use development is comprised of three high-rise office blocks, three low-rise office blocks, a luxury hotel, a convention Center and a mall and retail street.
The hotel is located on the east side for circulating visitors arriving from subway into the shopping mall, while the office buildings are on the west, where it faces picturesque riverside scenery that induces a serene working environment. The central boulevard serves as the spine of the development for it connects different programs and spaces. It is a designated pathway accompanied by a series of green spaces that encourages interaction between the visitors and landscape.
The design takes inspiration from the classical Chinese gardens from Jiangnan. They are constructed landscapes of rocks, hills and rivers, harmoniously integrated with the architecture elements. “The concept is reified by the creation of the Garden City, a marriage between a Garden Office and a Retail Parkland. Through adopting classical garden’s praxis of shifting scenery, the design installs a flourish of public green spaces for the sake of encouraging interactions amongst workers, while fusing with roof gardens and planted walkways to create a place where shoppers can relax and socialise.” Christine Lam, Aedas Global Design Principal explained.
The design subverts traditional office typology by reshaping the 23 low-rise office blocks into a series of open courtyards. A variety of sceneries is made possible by the dissection of building blocks, which generates a vast array of interstitial spaces to contain the multitude of sceneries and encourages connectivity. On the other hand, the high rise office blocks are designed to be highly efficient spaces wherein the outline is sharp and clean, the layout uniform.
Modeled on the traditional Chinese eaves, the canopy is elevated to creating a floating effect. It unites the disparate building blocks and enables the harmonious coexistence of spaces under one roof, serving as a talisman for the building’s overall identity.
Elements of the classical gardens are reinterpreted in modern architectural languages, and implemented throughout the development from the master layout plan to facade details of the buildings. “The low-rise folding facade is derived from ancient Chinese folding screens, whereas a series of bamboo-like aluminum fins are wrapped around the high-rise tower, serving as a shading device, and symbolising prosperity.”
Based on the image of rocky hills, the design language challenges the traditional mixed-use typology by stacking a mountain of programs upon each other, a spatial arrangement that creates visual breaks in the building mass and enriches user experience infinitely.
The mall and retail streets are embellished with outdoor terraces where users could explore the public food and beverage spaces. The design installs a sunken staircase that mirrors the natural terrain, blending modestly with its surroundings; whereas a curvilinear interior staircase is actuated by the visual of cascading waterfall, an indispensable feature for connecting multiple levels. A sky bridge is also erected to bridge together the neighboring subway station and the National Convention & Exhibition Center, connects to city sky bridge platform, forming a tightknit network with adjacent sites.
“The innovative mixed-use development forms a brand new skyline without obscuring the context of the Qingpu District. It is perceived as a blueprint for the future urban planning of Shanghai, where it sets a bracing standard, offering a flourish of green spaces around an experiential civic hub.” — David Clayton, Aedas Global Design Principal.