Developer: Shui On Land
Designers: Ben Wood Studio Shanghai
Location: MinHang District, Shanghai, China
By Colin Galloway
Shanghai’s Hongqiao Integrated Transit hub is a long-term development project on the city’s western edge that aims to build and connect an out-of-town CBD, a major new airport, a high-speed railway (HSR) terminus, inter-city bus networks, and connections to the city metro system into a single, interlinked base catering to the 75 million people living throughout the Yangtze River Delta. Currently serving 400 million passengers annually, it is the only such facility in
As part of this massive transport-orient development (TOD), Shui On Land has built a dedicated mixed-use facility that sits at the centre of the new CBD and adjacent to its transport infrastructure, featuring direct walking connections to the high-speed rail station and within easy reach of the airport by way of a 1,000 square metre check-in lounge. Essentially, the project is conceived as a means to tie together all the disparate elements of an integrated transit facility in a way that is both functional and user-friendly.
Known as THE HUB, it features gross floor area of 380,000 square meters, with four office towers, a Xintiandi village lifestyle centre, an indoor shopping mall, a performance/convention centre, and a 5-star hotel. Sustainability and placemaking are also key design features, with all buildings certified with the Chinese Green Building Label and many meeting LEED standards as well.
Planning and implementing a TOD framework that caters effectively to the multitude of uses (and users) it is intended to serve was an enormously challenging exercise, especially given the lack of comparable projects to draw from. Overall, however, the development has been remarkably successful.
Unsurprisingly, the entire development is conceived around the idea of connectivity. It does so, however, in various multi-dimensional ways, both spatially and in terms of accommodating a mass of different stakeholders.
Vertical and horizontal connections therefore seamlessly incorporate more than 20 escalators and 400 metres of pedestrian walkways at basement, ground, and above-ground levels. In particular, retail, dining, and cultural options are located on the ground floor, the 2 nd and 3 rd floors are mainly offices, and the shopping malls are connected to the HSR station at the basement level.
As one juror commented: “Its one of the rare times when you’re down in the basement level and you think you’re at grade. It’s a car-free environment. You’re in a neighbourhood square with restaurants and cafes open to the sky. The scale of it is correct. It’s very welcoming, and then as you begin to work your way up to what is the true grade level you realise how connected and three dimensional his project is”.
Beyond that, the project has anticipated the many ways in which the facility might be used and then created an environment with appeal to each of those different constituencies. It caters, therefore, to office workers from across the CBD, to passengers in transit, attendees at the Convention Center, and to families from surrounding areas who visit on daytrips to enjoy a variety of child-friendly amenities.
In addition, by touting the virtues of the high-speed rail interconnections, the developer was able to convince tenants from apparently far-flung locations to open offices there. According to another juror: “Some of the people that have taken leases are based in neighbouring provinces. But because HSR connections allow them fast access, they can have both a showroom and an office in Shanghai.
They show products manufactured a couple provinces away in a proper setting and at the same time maintain a toehold of office space, so when it’s convention time customers can come and be entertained and be part of the whole convention centre connection.”
For much the same reason, THE HUB has also been able to attract a number multi-national companies, who have opted for a base that exploits the interconnected transit links rather than a conventional (and more expensive) office in the Shanghai CBD.
Given the efficiencies afforded by the massive amount of integrated transport infrastructure on offer in Hongqiao and the multitude of users whose priorities have been addressed by the project, THE HUB can be considered a highly replicable facility offering a template that could in principle be implemented in almost any market in the world. That said, there are few destinations today where greenfield projects of the same scale are likely to emerge, and few governments outside China able to bring to bear the scale of resources and long-term commitment to such an exercise needed to make it a success. Hongqiao may therefore remain a spectacular, one-off, example of TOD on a grand scale.