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Stacking Machine

Drawing inspiration from the Lingnan culture of Guangzhou, where there is a strong focus on the juxtaposition of solids and voids, Aedas conceives a unique ‘zig-zag’ landmark that stands out within the new district centre in Nansha. 



BY Janice Seow

February 22nd, 2017


Located at the beginning of the historic Maritime Silk Road in Guangzhou, China, the Nansha Kingboard Free Trade Zone Mixed-use Project will house commercial offices and serviced apartments under one roof. Set to complete in 2020, the landmark marks a new phase of development for Nansha’s new district centre as a new free trade zone.

International architecture and design practice Aedas was appointed to create an iconic design for the development. “Our design concept is to create a landmark gateway building that celebrates the maritime access to China’s Belt and Road initiative,” explains Ken Wai, the Global Board Director of Aedas. As a result, the design process was guided by two core design principles – to capitalise on the tranquil views of the surrounding Jiaomen River and Phoenix Lake, and to maximise natural daylight and ventilation.

Responding to the challenging elongated and irregular-shaped plot that is close to the metro tracks, the building is composed of a series of stacking geometric blocks to ensure that all units do not directly face the metro tracks, which is an unwanted noise source. “The ‘zig-zag’ layout of the master plan [will] allows pockets of gardens, which form landscaped buffers between the track and our development,” says Wai.

The architectural form, featuring a 45-degree rotation at the upper portion, enables a diverse range of the building’s silhouette to be observed from various perspectives while maximising the total gross floor area to meet local setback requirements and fire codes.

“The design began with two separate towers; and through rotations and a stepped profile, the design achieved an architectural form that is both sculptural and unique,” Wai shares. In contrast to the complex building design, the facade is kept simple with external horizontal sun-shading fins and a double-glazed curtain wall system to minimise heat gain.

“The plans are actually designed such that the outlines are exactly the same, except for the middle section where there is a connection,” says Wai, adding that this makes the units generic for the client to easily switch between commercial offices and residential programmes.

Renderings courtesy of Aedas