Foshan’s history is deeply imbricated with the city’s clay terrain. Reflecting Foshan’s spiritual background, local art has often been based on a highly figural observation of nature, plants and animals meticulously cast in its clay. In 2014, PLP won an international competition to develop a mixed-use masterplan and landmark tower within Foshan’s New City – a green field site linked to the old city to the north by a newly completed bridge across the Pearl River.
New cities are common in China, as older infrastructure and building stock are increasingly unsuitable for the country’s rapid growth. However, China’s unprecedented urbanization demands new levels of scale that often ignore history, leaving behind tradition and cultural heritage. This situation creates bland developments with generic spaces that could be sited anywhere in the world. The ambition behind PLP’s design was to honour Foshan’s figural tradition and to reclaim its historic qualities. Can a new form of urbanism reflect the city’s culture of meticulous examination of nature as well as its religion and spirituality? Can a high-rise engage Foshan’s visual language established through careful figuration?
Suning Real Estate
Landmark Mixed-use Tower: Offices, Hotel and Retail
Site Area 65,000sqm
Total Construction Area 324,000sqm
Our masterplan includes a new municipal office building, media garden offices, and a future mixed-use development along a waterfront surrounded by parklands. The organization of the project eschews purely functional criteria, drawing instead on local traditions of scrutinising nature as a basis for creating form. Through a series of soft geometric operations, the masterplan is derived from the notion of architecture rising in a spiral. This creates a cohesive environment that establishes a counterpoint to the surrounding orthogonal and hard-edged context of modernist and post-modernist provenance.
As the most visible element in the skyline, Foshan Plaza sits at the nexus of external and internal circulation paths, carefully arranged to form a series of radial routes varying in scale and density to suit the scale of the context and to improve permeability. These interconnecting routes are further consolidated into a soft and hard landscape which continues into the sunken plazas around the complex, resulting in a network of spiralling trajectories which ultimately consolidate the visual focus to the tower. The expression of the development continues organically and connects the shopping mall with an entertainment complex.