New living in Yancheng

The China Eagle Group (CEG), a Shanghai-based development company specialising in the luxury property market, was planning to build upmarket apartments for Yancheng’s growing and affluent middle classes.

Studio Name: Baumschlager Eberle Architekten
Design team: Hugo Herrera Pianno, Johannes Burtscher
Area: Kaiyuan Street, Yancheng, China
Year: 2021 (=completion)
Location: Kaiyuan Street, Yancheng, China
Photographer Credit: Wu Qingshan

Kaijuan Street Yancheng by Baumschlager Eberle Architekten - Sheet4
©Wu Qingshan

An up-and-coming city of some 2 million inhabitants 300km north of the megacity of Shanghai, Yancheng is currently experiencing a property boom. The client’s instructions to Baumschlager Eberle Architekten were clear: to provide the very highest standards of architecture and interior design. Equally important in satisfying the expectations of potential buyers was the need for all 560 apartments to have a southern aspect. The architects’ response, recently completed. was a striking development comprising three residential towers, 120,000m2 of living space and the accompanying infrastructure. In stark contrast to the serried ranks of apartment blocks omnipresent in China, the design features three different, highly sculptural towers disposed to follow the sun as it moves through the sky and so guarantee optimum light exposure. Kaiyuan Street is the largest residential development to be designed by Baumschlager Eberle Architekten in China, where the firm has been operating for 20 years. It met with great success from the outset, with all the apartments selling – primarily to investors – prior to the start of construction. A number of further projects are currently on the drawing board. (1404 Z)

Kaijuan Street Yancheng by Baumschlager Eberle Architekten - Sheet7
©Wu Qingshan

Resolutely three-dimensional

A virtual tour of the area around the three sculptured towers reveals just how much the design differs from run-of-the-mill Chinese housing. Its seemingly arbitrary form is actually the result of a detailed analysis of the sun’s path and a desire to create high-quality – interior and exterior – space for its residents.

“The curving footprints of the towers combined with their staggered heights mean that no long shadows fall on any of the buildings,” explains project manager Hugo Herrera Pianno of Baumschlager Eberle Architekten.

The three towers of 27, 28 and 31 floors respectively coalesce to form a series of sculptures that flow through the cityscape, forming a coherent whole or rising as three solitary structures in the urban space, depending on the viewer’s standpoint. In a new district characterised by density and space, dynamism and tension, the varying heights of the stepped towers accentuate the sense of movement and underscore the three-dimensional qualities that set them apart from the neighbouring rows of apartment blocks.

Kaijuan Street Yancheng by Baumschlager Eberle Architekten - Sheet9
©Wu Qingshan

Dynamic architecture and well-being

The idea of an architecture designed to provide a sense of well-being continues in the lines of the façade. The in situ-cast concrete parapet strips form the first layer of the building envelope, shielding the inner glass façades. The space between these strips and the windows provides attractive terraces, private, south-facing outdoor areas that simultaneously prevent the sun from shining directly into the buildings. The apartments themselves are characterised by generous proportions, measuring between 140 and 220m2. Many of them enjoy corner locations, further expanding their views of the city, while others extend the entire width of a building, another way of enhancing the spatial experience.

The distinctive strips that encircle the apartments do more than provide the parapet walls required by structural engineering. however. They also emphasise the sculptural quality of the development. In the words of Hugo Herrera Pianno, “The horizontality of the façade strips brings the whole complex together. Observing it as a whole, it’s difficult to make out where one building finishes and another one ends. Ultimately, they’re huge sculptures.”

The three towers are connected by a common pedestal storey that houses a conference centre, restaurant and wellness suite. The curved surface of this area offers a spacious, landscaped outdoor area that mirrors the course of the nearby river, brings an element of the natural landscape into the city and further accentuates the coherence of the wave-shaped façade strips.

©Wu Qingshan

More than just creating a residential development, the design devised by Baumschlager Eberle Architekten in collaboration with its client has also enhanced the location on Kaiyuan Street. With its characteristic transparency, attractive green spaces and exciting architecture, it differs radically – and to great effect – from the monotony of the surrounding area.

“Whichever way you look at it, it’s an exceptional residential project for China. One in which nature, light and view all have an important role to play,” explains project architect Hugo Herrera Pianno, spelling out the development’s unique selling point. (3236 Z)

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