Tall order: towers light up Xiamen’s skyline as statements of growing confidence in city’s future
Structures mark a new approach to designing city spaces, integrating all elements essential to modern city living
Several gleaming skyscrapers on Xiamen’s vibrant waterfront have altered the city’s skyline. These new towering structures include the 218-metre Xiamen Eton Centre, and the 300-metre twin towers of the Xiamen Shimao Straits Mansion, formerly known as Shimao Mo Sky Mansion.
Slated for completion within 2017, Xiamen Eton Centre is Eton Properties’ latest development in the coastal city. The mega project comprises two commercial towers – an 18-storey hotel tower and a 40-storey small office/home office tower (SOHO) – atop a luxury multi-storey retail podium featuring sky gardens and an atrium. The entire development consists of grade-A offices, hotels, and serviced apartments, with total floor area of 280,000 square metres.
The retail and hotel/meeting spaces are split across the hotel and SOHO towers, with fully glazed pedestrian bridges connecting them.
“Xiamen is a unique waterfront city with buildings integrated into the natural hilly topography of southern Fujian province,” says Timothy Johnson, lead architect of the project and partner in charge of commercial real estate design at international architecture firm NBBJ. “The site for Xiamen Eton Centre is at the water’s edge, and NBBJ’s design seeks to express the natural features of Xiamen with access to the water and views to the historic Gulangyu Island. The architectural design is organic and streamlined as if the South China Sea shaped the composition,” he adds.
According to Johnson, the composition of the high rise SOHO tower forms a dialogue with the horizontally oriented mid-rise hotel tower, creating a harmonious relationship. At street level, these two components are united by retail space that generates a central courtyard to bring light and circulation into the surrounding area.
“The hotel building, which faces the water, is divided into a four-star [hotel] and a five-star hotel with two distinct entry experiences,” Johnston says. “These entries are split with a large framed view from the internal courtyard out to the water and Gulangyu Island. Therefore the project acts as a dynamic and symbolic gateway connecting the city to its origin: the water.
“Another unique feature is the integration of the SOHO tower mechanical systems into the exterior of the building. The design fully integrates these features, creating a clean and streamlined exterior design.”
Also on the waterfront of Xiamen Harbour are the twin towers of the Xiamen Shimao Straits Mansion, situated to the east of Xiamen University and to the west of Gulangyu Island. At the base of the project is the Xiamen Shimao Emall, part of the hotels, offices, parks, shopping malls, clubs and apartments development by the Shanghai Shimao Group. This involves taking a new approach to urban development in major Chinese cities, which seeks to integrate the various elements essential to working and living in a modern city living.
At the connecting base of the twin towers, Xiamen Shimao Emall features a lifestyle mall with restaurants and bars, entertainment (including a cinema), and waterfront gym and fitness centres. The mall has been designed as an integrated, multidimensional space, ideal for shopping, tourism, commerce and recreation.