The Oval Partnership is part of an international consortium tasked with transforming what used to be Asia’s largest cement plant into a world-class entertainment, art and cultural hub on the west bund along the Huangpu River- The Shanghai DreamCenter. The center will feature performance venues, creative media studios, theatres, cinemas, galleries, retail areas as well as restaurants and bars. As one of the most ambitious developments of its kind in China, the Shanghai DreamCenter envisions to become the flagship attraction of the West Bund Media Port in the Xuhui district.
The Oval Partnership is responsible for the masterplan of the one-kilometre long waterfront area, as well as the overall retail concept design linking the Metro Line 11 station and the riverside. In response to the vastness of the site, a scenario planning approach that puts people at the centre of the master plan design is adopted. The new urban form is an organic continuation of the city fabric. Walkability is the primary objective: permeability, high quality public realm and pleasurable pedestrian experiences. All sites across the MTR station at West and the West Bund at East are connected via a series of streets, decks, gardens, squares and steps, forming an urban quarter where pedestrian movements are safe and pleasurable, where street-life is vibrant and diverse, and where cultural venue approachable and her offer relevant. Such is the fundamental ingredient of cross-boundary exchange, crucial to the thriving of creative endeavours and new economy, prerogatives of the millennials and the generation-Z.
The unique waterfront site features five industrial structures which are part of a disused cement factory that dates back more than a century. These robust remnants of the city’s glorious industrial past are conserved and adapted into multi-purpose performance venues providing a total of 8,500 seats, including a 3,000 seat arena housed in an enormous dome where cement was once mixed. Historic and modern architecture finds harmony along the riverside, as local industrial and cultural contexts are respected and integrated into a vibrant culture-entertainment experience unseen in the region.
Regarding the construction materials, such as cement, off-formed concrete and Cor-Ten steel are the references drawn from the heritage of the site, once the biggest cement factory in Far East, and engineering bricks and terrazzo are the references drawn from the time of Concession.
For an urban development of the scale and intensity of Shanghai DreamCenter to be truly successful, it is important to be instinctively in tune with the evolving pattern of the Chinese society. In a way the designers are serving a myth, of how the contemporary Chinese urbanites see themselves, and how they want to be seen. It is part of an unfolding process. It is in the creative tension between how much to be revealed, and how far the users and the occupiers are enabled to develop the process that the scheme derives its ultimate power and vitality.
Experience at the Shanghai DreamCenter is also constant play between vastness and the intimate: in between the towering concrete and Huangpu’s awe beholders meander in the lanes, squares, streets and gardens. It is also a constant juxtaposition of the permanence and the momentary: in between the resolute Longhua and the unshakable pier all performances and acquaintances are improvisatory and ethereal.
The Shanghai DreamCenter will be one of the elegant arcaded streets, squares and gardens that are generously proportioned and humanized in scale; shops and cafes on the ground floor; galleries, office chambers and restaurants on the upper floors.
Indeed, the design of the Shanghai DreamCenter is very detailed in a way that doesn’t require high-precision high-specification specialists’ assembly, but was based on humble materials with tolerance. This project won the Gold Award for Best Urban Regeneration Project at the MIPIM Asia Awards 2016. The construction is well underway and slated to open in 2019.
Project Name: Shanghai DreamCenter
Location: Xuhui, Shanghai, China
Expected Completion: 2019
Site Area: 152,280 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 54,462 square metres
Building Height: 150 metres
Client/Owner/Developer: Shanghai DreamCenter Creative Culture Development Limited
Principal Architect: The Oval Partnership Ltd
Design Architects: Kohn Pederson Fox Associates; 3XN; P&T Group; Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects; Shanghai Institute of Architectural Design & Research Co Ltd
Interior Design Firm: The Oval Partnership Ltd
Civil & Structural Engineers: Shanghai Underground Space Architectural Design & Research Institute Co Ltd; Shanghai Institute of Architectural Design & Research Co Ltd; P&T
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Shanghai Institute of Architectural Design & Research Co Ltd; P&T
Quantity Surveyor: Langdon & Seah
Lighting Consultant: H.G Lighting
Landscape Architect: Aspect Studios
Green Building Consultant: East China Architectural Design & Research Institute
Main Contractors: Shanghai Construction Group; China Construction Eighth Engineering Division Corp Ltd; Shanghai Greenland Construction (Group) Co Ltd
Images: The Oval Partnership