Reflecting the historic shipyards of Pudong

Monday 03 Oct 2011

Arquitectonica completes bank HQ overlooking site of historic shipyards

A 200,000 sq m project consisting of two 49-storey office towers on a riverfront site, Riviera TwinStar Square is located at the former home to the city’s shipyards. The client gave no design mandate but there was a site with a history. The Shanghai shipyards had had an important presence on the riverfront for two centuries. The architects felt that the buildings should be a monument to its contribution to the city.

The two towers rise in symmetry and on axis with the main slip that led to the drydock; the slipway itself is being restored for use as a new museum. The buildings form a void in the shape of the missing hull. The space between them becomes the figure and the towers are the ground; the figural roles reversed. This monumental implied space between the towers becomes the iconic form, the void ruling over the solid as the defining element.

The purity and simplicity of the design are its virtue; the towers stand out because they do not try hard to do so. The architects have chosen to challenge the now popular notion of 'building supremacy.' The two towers are mirrored but identical in bulk and height. Instead of one tall building they designed two, indicating a power in that message, the two glass towers rising in tandem forming a gateway to the river.

As they face each other, their facades curve dramatically to form an imaginary space that frames the skies and the city skyline. Their nautical symmetry is meant to convey memories of the ships that were once launched from the now relocated Shanghai Shipyards. The towers are designed to glow from within, but with the inner curves at the centre to be lit to emphasise the distinctive shape and monumental scale of the space.

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