Hong Kong-based developer Hang Lung Properties has teamed up with New York-based architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) Associates to begin construction on Westlake 66, a 194,100 square metre commercial development in Hangzhou’s Xiacheng district.
The project, which broke ground this month, combines five office towers, a boutique hotel and a mixed-use podium together with public parks in the capital of Zhejiang province. The designer and developer are working together to leverage a site in a densely developed area between the West Lake and the Grand Canal to form a new link between the two historic sites while providing office space for tech startups and young professionals, according to a statement from KPF.
“The concept for the project was instigated by the challenges of the site, which is buried behind a main boulevard and nestled between a series of over scaled buildings,” KPF design principal Jeffrey Kenoff said.
Hang Lung Reboots Mainland Program with Hangzhou Project
Hang Lung, which hit a home run in Shanghai 18 years ago with its Plaza 66 mixed-use project, but tripped up in attempts to apply the same formula in second-tier locations such as Shenyang and Tianjin, is planning to invest a total of RMB 19 billion ($2.67 billion) on Westlake 66 after spending RMB 10.73 billion to acquire the project site in May 2018.
With a winning bid at a city land auction last year the developer headed by outspoken property tycoon Ronnie Chan made the 44,800 square metre (482,223 square foot) plot in Hangzhou’s Wulin Shangquan shopping area its first mainland acquisition in five years. At the time, Hang Lung’s land purchase, which saw it outbid Alibaba in the tech giant’s home town, was also the second largest by value in the capital of Zhejiang.
In unveiling the design, KPF representatives commended the city government for its work in making the project possible.
“Westlake 66 has benefited from an extraordinary level of collaboration with the local planning authorities,” KPF Managing Principal Peter Gross said. “The result is a progressive design that is architecturally compelling and technologically advanced while still keenly sensitive to the rich historic context of the West Lake district and the historic structures on this site.”
Integrating the Natural Landscape into a Modular Design
The project by KPF, whose Lotte World project in Seoul was recognized as the best new skyscraper in the world in 2018, says that the Hangzhou project takes its design inspiration from the scenery of the West Lake by integrating the natural landscape and the city’s heritage into its modular design and through use of local materials.
The design team took the project’s secluded location and the need to redirect pedestrian flow as an opportunity to carve a new green pedestrian link between the lake and the Grand Canal through the site. The green space also connects the project’s four inner blocks with terraced towers in a manner designed to echo the West Lake and surrounding hills.
Kenoff and his team worked with KPF Urban Interface, the firm’s research and design group, to parametrically link shadow impacts, visibility from nearby streets, unobstructed views, maximized daylight, and other key factors into an algorithm that organizes optimal massing along the greenway.
The project podium mixes uses through a layered stack and the upper floors of the office space onto a green roof that extends the length of the podium, creating a new public sky park for the city.
Hoping for Big Things in Hangzhou
“With Hangzhou’s vibrant economy and consumer market, plus Hang Lung’s rich business experience in nearby Shanghai and other mainland cities, we are confident that Westlake 66 will become a top commercial complex and landmark in eastern China, bringing new impetus to the company’s business growth,” Hang Lung’s Chan, said at the recent groundbreaking ceremony.
Just around 45 minutes from Shanghai by high speed train, and home to Alibaba and other tech players, Hangzhou is often cited among what some analysts refer to as China’s tier 1.5 cities. The city’s GDP reached RMB 1.35 trillion in 2018, representing a 6.7 percent year-on-year growth and placing it 10th among all cities in China. The city’s annual personal disposable income in 2018 reached RMB 54,348, ranking it in top place in Zhejiang province, and that number is expected to increase as the city gears up to host the 2022 Asian Games.