Embracing History

by Sammi Yip on Aug 28, 2015 in Architecture
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Creating a mixture of historical buildings with a new urban retail landmark, Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu demonstrates that it is possible to successfully develop a new architecture model in China

The new Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu — opened three months ago — has been a hot topic among architects for some time now. An open-air, mixedused retail complex located in the heart of Chengdu, it embraces its Sichuan culture while combining the regeneration of the city centre's urban fabric with large and generous public spaces for all.

Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu has been one of very few projects in Asia to attempt this. Nearly five years in the planning and building, the development is an open-plan, low-rise, lane-driven two- or three-storey retail centre spanning approximately 114,000 sq-m. Masterminded by The Oval Partnership, which had previously also worked with Swire Properties on Taikoo Li Sanlitun in Beijing and Taikoo Hui Guangzhou, it is another notch in the partnership's belt.

Chuanxi architectural elements such as sloping roofs and dougongs can be seen in the new structures

Photographs courtesy of Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu

According to Oval, what made this project more challenging than the others was the need to design a modern retail landmark while also revitalising the on-site heritage elements — such as the 1,500-year-old Daci temple, built during the Eastern Jin dynasty, which happens to sit at the heart of this retail landmark.

But among the challenges came unexpected inspiration, as the traffic network within the complex proves. Historical research showed that, back in the day, roads and lanes intertwined with and around each other, creating a maze in which it was easy to lose your way. "It's part of the fun to get lost and wander between the lanes and discover something new," says Dr Lin Hao, director of The Oval Partnership.

This is a preview of the "Embracing History” article from the September 2015 issue of Perspective magazine.

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