Keppie harness rugged beauty of China in masterplan for mixed use development
Following Keppie's successful design proposals for the new Community Theatre at Grand View, Huangshan, the Yuanyi Group commissioned Keppie to prepare masterplanning proposals for an area of approximately 2.5 sq ml, near Huangshan Airport on the western edges of the main urban areas. Although currently green field in nature, the area under consideration forms part of an ambitious 2003 Development Plan. The brief called for a new mixed use community incorporating 22,000 new houses with commercial, retail, leisure and civic uses to support an eventual population of more than 50,000 people.
As a stimulus to the town's growth, the planned 2012 high speed rail link which will connect Huangshan and Shanghai with a regular journey of less than three hours has become a catalyst for this far reaching development plan. Mount Taiyang is a key part of the Government's strategy for tourist driven growth and Keppie's challenge was to propose a sustainable and sensitive environment which could contribute to the growing attraction of the region.
Keppie's first thoughts were based on an understanding of the rugged beauty of the landscape at the base of the Jin Shan Mountain around which Huangshan has grown. The area around Huangshan is one of the most distinctive in China and Keppie's proposals sought to create a harmony between the natural and the man-made such that the mountainous topography and the waters running through the site from them become primary drivers for the masterplanning concept. An old saying by Confucious which states 'the mountains are for the virtuous, the waters are for the wise' became the guiding principle.
The design feasibility studies were very well received. A two-stage design strategy has been adopted with the first phase of development being planned over a four year period and later phases being considered in more detail over a further eleven years.
David Ross, Design Director at Keppie commented: “The opportunity to create a new integrated community with all its necessary considerations of scale, hierarchy, permeability, character – the need to mix special spaces with ordinary ones – is a very significant one. To have this responsibility in a context with a cultural tradition as rich as Huangshan is a great honour.”