An urban oasis

Nick Myall
Tuesday 20 Mar 2018

Inspired by a string of pearls, Sanya Bay rises to new heights with striking mixed-use tower surrounded by lush gardens

Sunshine Insurance Finance Plaza, designed by Woods Bagot, provides a soaring new addition to Sanya Bay’s rising skyline. Located at the southern tip of China’s Hainan Island, the mixed-use development features a 37-storey tower rising above a tiered retail podium and lush gardens. The tower comprises A-grade offices, a 4-star Park Hyatt Hotel, a private clubhouse and a rooftop pool.

Inspired by a strand of pearls, the landscaped gardens are dotted with low pavilions and cooling fountains. A grand allée lined with palm trees reflects the vertical axis of the site. Because this seaside resort is humid and windy, indigenous flora was planted at the office building's entries to modulate the temperature and buffer the ocean winds. The effect is an urban oasis in the middle of what locals often refer to as "the Hawaii of China."

Patrick Daly, the lead architect, said, “We were honored to design this new HQ for China’s preeminent insurance company. Our goal was to design a complex that seamlessly transitions between a variety of uses, moderates the tropical climate, and provides stunning views of the island, the ocean, and the hills beyond.”

At the base of the tower is a curved play of tiered, multilevel podiums that serve the people who live near and work in the building, as well as the surrounding community. This shared use is de rigueur for Woods Bagot’s work in China. Acting as a community link, the four orb-shaped edifices connect to the outdoor common spaces by way of pedestrian paths and also feature roof decks and high-end retail spaces. Below, locals can enjoy an underground concourse with everyday amenities, where they will be sheltered from heavy rainfall during the winter months.

Standing at 525 ft/160m, the central, curved pillar also serves multiple demographics. The concave portion includes the entryway to the offices, while the convex beckons hotel visitors and employees. Inside the offices, employees enjoy interior "pocket" atriums inserted into the sides of the tower to provide meeting places for companies. Large meeting places take the form of roof decks for the hotel.

The strong western sun determined the shape of the tower. To alleviate its heat, the design team landed on a curved shape to disperse its rays on both sides. The blades on both the main pillar and the podium's façades help to further disperse the heat while also alluding to a local tradition history of basket weaving.

Sunshine Insurance Finance Plaza brings nature into the city, connecting work and play in a green and sheltered setting.

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Nick Myall

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