A few weeks ago while in Shenzhen 深圳, MovingCities paid a visit to two recently completed projects by URBANUS Architecture & Design 都市实践: the Maillen Hotel and Apartments 美伦酒店＆公寓 and the Nanshan Wedding Center 南山婚礼堂.
Both projects represent viable architectural alternatives – mid-scale residential range, and institutional small-scale buildings – for the Chinese context.
MovingCities was in Shenzhen on a invitation to participate in the Making Creative City | URBANUS Workshop, and after this two days of brainstorm we took the opportunity to venture out into city’s territory and let the buildings speak for themselves.
Featured URBANUS Architecture & Design projects are conveniently located in walking distance from subway stops: Shekou Port 蛇口港站 [Maillen Hotel and Apartments] and
Taoyuan Station 桃园站 [Nanshan Wedding Center].
The architects see the Nanshan Wedding Center 南山婚礼堂 [Site Area: 3,000 m2; Floor Area: ±1,000 m2; Client: Construction Bureau of Nanshan District 南山建设局] as a new architectural typology [see images at designboom], responding in an articulate way to an act that in Chinese contemporary culture is more connected with registration than celebration:
In China, the image of marriage registration office is usually closely associated with government institutes. Moreover, registry office, as a part of the Civil Affairs Department, also connects marriage with the complicated and boring bureaucracy. Due to such bureaucratization of the process of marriage, the supposedly romantic and exciting moment of marriage registration turns into mechanized experience and formalism. […]
The design strategy is to accommodate a modern wedding center with well embedded programs. […] The key idea of this design is to exemplify the experience of one circulating in the building. […] The approach explores how to situate a specific government building in the existing urban fabric of residential communities.
designboom also has a nice series of images of the Maillen Hotel & Apartments 美伦酒店＆公寓 [Site Area: 13,200 m2; Floor Area: 21,500m2; Client: China Merchants Property Development Co. Ltd (Shenzhen) 深圳招商房地产有限公司], while archrecord points out in short descriptive review that Urbanus “reinterpreted the spatial organization from traditional China in a way that still allows residents to live in the 21st century. By establishing strong relationships between hill and water, garden and trees, the project reminds people of the fundamental philosophical ideas in traditional Chinese design that connect man and nature”.
The architects describe it as:
a project [that] returns to fundamental ideas in Chinese living as expressed by the saying “hills outside hills, and gardens inside gardens”, an idea referring to a continuous and occasionally repeating rhythm of space and form found in many traditional villages and mountainous landscapes. The relationship between nature and building is blurred in an attempt to create a new kind of urban village.
It is not only interesting to the design intentions and inspiration, but also to the advertising of such type of architectural environment. The Maillen Hotel and Apartments are part of the Ascott-chain and their PR-department came up with following revelations and analysis:
Ascott Maillen Shenzhen is a collection of ten blocks of luxury serviced residences and well-appointed boutique hotel rooms. Designed for international executives and their families, each private apartment is spacious with sophisticated and refined decor. […]
Once home, relax in the sauna and take a dip in the indoor heated swimming pool. A welcome alternative to a hotel, the residence provides the opportunity to explore and discover the intricacies of Shenzhen and Hong Kong while indulging in a complete lifestyle experience at Ascott Maillen Shenzhen.
We were certainly impressed by these two projects, one taking inspiration from history and nature, the other reacting upon bureaucracy and nicely positioned within a bustling neighborhood. Especially the flow between inside and outside in the Maillen Hotel and Apartments made us think that a good direction for the development of Shenzhen 深圳 would be to embrace and take advantage of its subtropical climate.
Unfortunately this flow is limited to its architectural design – interpreting inside and outside – and not necessarily about integration with the possible desires of local people to find a slower pace of public life nearby [which the Nanshan Wedding Center does with grace]. So we also have to agree with Mary Ann O’Donnell‘s point in a recent article for Architectural Review [subscribers only!] about Maillen Hotel & Apartments: “Inspired by the multiple levels of traditional Chinese gardens, this new residential complex opens up to the surrounding landscape – while closing itself off from the city beyond” – as Shenzhen’s inhabitants are not allowed in to enjoy the Ascott grounds.
Sometimes it is client over context.
Pictures by movingcities.org
Urbanus drawings at designboom.com
location & links
- Ascott Maillen Hotel and Apartments 美伦酒店＆公寓 | by URBANUS
Yanshan Road, Shekou, Nanshan Dist., Shenzhen [googlemaps]
subway stop Shekou Port 蛇口港站
- Read further: Maillen Hotel and Apartments in Shenzhen, China by Urbanus
by Mary Ann O’Donnell | Architectural Review 28 August 2012 [subscribers only!]
- Nanshan Wedding Center 南山婚礼堂 | by URBANUS
Changxing Rd. / Nantou St., Nanshan Dist., Shenzhen [googlemaps]
subway stop Taoyuan Station 桃园站