By Maurits Elen
In China’s biggest municipality, Chongqing, lies some of the most sought after real estate in all of urban China. The site, which resembles lower Manhattan, has now been bought by one of Asia’s biggest real estate companies, Capitaland, for more than 1 billion US dollars. Developers aim to transform the unique and charismatic site into an economic heavyweight in the future.
The thrilling location sits in Chaotianmen at the tip of Jiefangbei in Chongqing, facing the confluence the Yangtze river in the east and Jialing River in the south. Anybody who has been to Chongqing will instantly recognize it as the spot overlooking that area where they herd all the tourists onto Yangtze cruise boats.
Currently construction is underway on an enormous scale, with plans to turn the area into a future magnet for business. Developers are creating a 1,200 square kilometer section called the Liangjiang New Area. After Pudong in Shanghai and Binhai in Tianjin, it will be China’s third official sub provincial area.
Renowned architect Moshe Safdie has been appointed to design a huge residential complex which will provide the city with a landmark building at the tip of the island. Safdie, however, has proposed a building very similar to the Marina Bay Sands, a casino they designed in Singapore.
Shanghai-based Dutch architect and founder of the Go West Project Daan Roggeveen has slammed the new design as an ‘an absolute chutzpah’:
‘First of all, it is an almost literal copy of their Marina Sands Bay scheme in Singapore. Secondly, the metaphor of the sailing ships is to cheap to be true, especially when it is combined with the roof garden’.
‘Creating a huge north-south orientated residential complex because of market demands, and then calling it the sails of a ship because it happens to be next to a river is a bit too simple for me, especially when you work for such an interesting client. It seems the architect did nothing to relate the building in a true way to its magnificent location in one of the most thrilling square kilometers of Asia.’
‘The interesting thing is that Singapore once again proves to be the example for Chinese inland cities. But time has come for these cities to develop their own architectural icons – and stay away from letting the architects repeat themselves.’
We can’t help but agree, but is this a case of lazy architects, or did some Chongqing officials take a flight down to Singapore, saw a building they liked, and decided they wanted a new and improved version of the same thing?
Artist’s impression of Capitaland’s new project in Chongqing (on top) and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. See the similarities?