The Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, completed in 2010, is located beneath a new public park on a nearly one-kilometre long waterfront site in central Shanghai, near the historic Bund. Part of a larger effort to galvanise the redevelopment of the area adjacent to the Bund by extending a line of waterfront parks, it also was intended to rejuvenate the local cruise business by providing a highly convenient and welcoming facility for embarking and disembarking travelers.
The 64,000-sq-m terminal has three underground levels below a surface level deep enough to plant large groves of fully grown trees. The top level has vehicular drop offs and the main departure hall with immigration areas and moving sidewalks to small boarding pavilions at the surface. The second level below has baggage pickup and customs, and the third is for parking. It is able to serve three cruise ships of the 2,000-passenger class at a time, with expected eventual throughput of 1,000,000 passengers per year.
The light-filled departure area results from a design that entwines the underground with the surface and city skyline keeping them from being two unrelated experiences. This ‘surface tension’ is expressed by an undulating green surface that pulls away from the ground to become a bridge-like form combining the functions of a skylight, amphitheatre, gateway and a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional Chinese motif of a footbridge in a park.
The terminal is passively cooled by river water, in which it is fully immersed with a system of double walls at its perimeter, pre-cooling the circulating air. Connected to the terminal is a 260-ft-long glass observation bubble that floats on steel legs above the park, providing spectacular city views and an arena for public functions. One of the largest and most complex bubble structures ever built, it uses advanced environmental multilayered glazing with four sided panels whose geometry of constantly proportional conic sections assures optical flatness. Classed as a high rise building under the Shanghai Code, it has three interwoven levels folded within the shell like the interior of an oyster.