The award-winning project by Andrew Bromberg of Aedas pushes the boundaries of the mixed-use typology.
Alibaba ‘A’ Community Development explores the highly integrated and overlapping mixed-use typology and pushes it to the edge – testing the threshold of where individual programmes collide, overlap and even morph into interaction spaces with rich ambiguity.
Located within a new technology zone in Chengdu, China, the project consists of office, corporate headquarters, showrooms, hotel, residential, SOHO and retail uses.
The major components of the office and headquarters are positioned on the northern edge of the site with good frontage and a major vehicular corridor, while the residential components are located on the southern – and also less dense – side of the site.
Key to the project is its exploration of ways in which both the commercial and residential elements can come together while maximising opportunities for interaction. The solution comes in the form of a network of interaction spaces that weave through and connect all programmes of the project.
Between the formal business area in the north and the informal residential area in the south lies an outdoor plaza called the ‘incubator’, which is the heart of the proposed network of interactions. A ‘canyon’ is formed from the mass of the different uses fronted by the northern sides of the residential towers and the headquarters. The SOHO function, which has both residential and commercial uses, is used to knit the residential towers and the incubator together and absorb the canyon walls on the south. The retail component then becomes the civic glue tying the canyon together with the surrounding incubator to activate the plaza as a retail loop.
The incubator also houses a ‘showroom’, which can be used for exhibitions, retail displays, lectures and corporate events or even as the main ballroom for the hotel, while a ‘living room’ on the southern side provides designers and artists in the SOHO spaces as well as the residential occupants with a place to create and socialise.
The project recently received the 2014 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Hong Kong Design Awards Merit Award (Unbuilt/Other category).