A first look at BIG’s Hualien Wellness and Residential Development
Situated on the eastern coast of Taiwan, the beach community of Hualien has seen an outflow of young people seeking better opportunities and an ageing population seeking second homes. This has led to a growing demand for more specialised housing in the region. Bjarke Ingels Group's (BIG) Hualien Residences scheme is a formally and programmatically innovative residential community that seeks to find ‘the perfect balance between nature, health and the built environment’.
The form of the buildings, with their sharp peaks and low valleys, are like nothing seen in the area or indeed elsewhere. Inspired by the local terrain, which is mountainous on one side with the sea on the other, the buildings respond to their locale through their peaked forms and use of large expanses of glass which provides the inhabitants with spectacular views out to the sea.
The development places a focus on exercise and healthy living, with programmes catering to an ageing demographic. The buildings shape encourages the growth of a community that is health conscious and productive and the community integrates many health-focused features such as speed walking paths and a large public path that wraps the entire complex that incorporates different activities along the way.
There is also an underground jogging path to use in adverse weather that doubles as a shortcut to all of the buildings via an interior route and a medical facility located in the complex that provides residents ready access to healthcare services.
The Hualian development goes beyond being a health-conscious community and strives also to be a new model for urban living. It offers a diverse roster of amenities such as a performance stage, shops and restaurants. These, together with public paths, media rooms, common gardens, lounges and pools are intended as social incubation spaces where people can come together to share and learn from each other.
The key to Hualien’s success will be getting the residents to actually use the amenities provided. Getting it built will also be an engineering feat of epic proportions.