New development in Chengdu is more than just a mall
The project is located in the suburb area of Chengdu city (between the 3rd and 4th ring roads), a Chinese southwest major city of Sichuan province. The site is actually within the system of the so-called ‘Chengdu 198 Functional Zone’ which is approximately 198 sq km of green ring-belt along the 3rd ring road. The clients hold a concept design competition for their suburbia shopping mall, it includes a theme shopping centre, a featured shopping street and its mix-use building complex development including 5 star hotels, restaurants and so on. Moreover due to its location of urban farm's touristic program, the clients want to entitle their shopping mall to be ‘Tianyuan Mall’, which means a shopping mall with its farming and gardening features. It sounds a bit like Ebenezer Howard's ‘Garden City’ concept or Frank Lloyd Wright's ‘Broadacre City’ concept. In fact the word ‘Tianyuan’ is exactly Chinese way of interpretation on those notions, and Chengdu is identified by itself as a ‘Tianyuan City’.
The whole site is ‘L’ shaped and adjacent to a ladder-shaped public green land. As the design brief noted, the architects were able to take this public green land into their concept consideration.
The concept starts from the phrase ‘Tianyuan Mall itself; how to turn the ‘Tianyuan Mall’ into ‘Tianyuan More’? Therefore, not only should the design solve its functional or programatic issues but also should try to discover its value of urbanity by bringing urban farm programs, wetland preservation, open public realm and atmospheric streets into a whole consideration. Therefore the architects introduced layered systems such as public realm, pedestian path, transitional landscape, public park and wetland preservation, as well as hybrid buildings, local monorail services, etc.
The architects believe that the suburb shopping will become a catalyst to enhance the urban-nature qualities of its suburbia locations. In this context, they worked on two interfaces; one is an urban interface, the other is a nature interface. Basically, the concept is trying to make the gentle transition from urban to nature - in other words, the urban activities are filtrated into the natural resort. Due to three phases of development, each development plot is enabled to acquire different sequences with its own spatial qualities, that is, from high density development to low density development. Each plots not only can be separated and independent, but also, once three phases development have been finished, they function as an unity. Our landscape strategy respect the site existing conditions, for instance, we fully protect the existing wetland and turn it into a natural resort; and we respect the ruin of car racing tack (it used to be a car racing track site), and take its traces as our hint to manage the route system with urban farming programs. Furthermore, the people-moving system is diverse, encouraging the traffic-calming system in the Tianyuan Mall area, such as a pedestrian zone, cycle routes, monorail system, and pedestrian friendly public realm etc.
It is hoped that this kind of mixed-used Tianyuan Mall will be a Chengdu citizens' weekend destination as well as a tourist distribution hub.