Chongqing Tiandi 重庆天地


On Studio Shanghai’s first visit to Chongqing, Ben came across an old factory in a hillside village. High on the brick wall near the roof eave was an air vent with a brick-lattice forming the Chinese characters for shuāngxǐ, or ‘Double Happiness.’ Commonly used as a symbol of marriage, in this context he found its elegant marriage of industry, beauty and culture a fitting metaphor for our work.

Stepping up from the shore of the Jialing River on one of the slopes for which Chongqing is famous, Chongqing Tiandi was our first project where we began with no pre-existing buildings. We studied Chongqing villages and worked the tension between their industrial and pastoral pasts to our advantage. Larger red brick and exposed steel buildings evocative of the 1950s ring the site, allowing an intimate ensemble of wooden and grey brick houses to nest within.

The fire lane and underground parking disappear under the slope. We carefully organized the mixed use program – an amphitheater, boutique hotel, retail, and restaurants – to draw life into every corner of the development, and then fanned them up the site’s eight meter level change along nine different ground floors. We worked with Dwight Law of Design Land Collaborative to then link each level with terraced courtyards, gardens, alleys, and even a stepped fountain. Our use of such techniques as radiant cooling in open spaces, green roofs, rain water collection and recycling, and a water source heat pump system were part of an integrated sustainable approach to planning and design, earning the project LEED-CS Gold  as well as LEED-ND Gold pre-certifications from USGBC.

Chongqing Tiandi sits at the heart of a larger development laid out by SOM with a tower by KPF which, at 456.0 meters, will be the tallest in Western China. Anchoring an axis at the west corner of our site we built our own tower, a bell tower proportionate to its context, height 8.0 meters. In the lattice work we wrote shuāngxǐ, our tribute to Chongqing’s industrial roots and the future of its past.