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SOM designs Jiuzhou Bay—a new waterfront neighborhood in Zhuhai

Recently connected to international finance and tourism centres Hong Kong and Macau via the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world, an eco-conscious city in the Greater Bay Area Zhuhai has emerged and plays a pivotal role in the region’s growing tech hub, which might soon rival Silicon Valley.

In an effort to transform the city’s waterfront and create a blueprint for future development, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) was selected from a shortlist of 10 global design firms to design Jiuzhou Bay—a new 5.6 million-square-foot mixed-use neighbourhood that features offices, residences, retail, and infrastructure.

The design sets a new standard for public transit in the region, with plans for a robust transportation hub that offers connections to land, sea, and rail across more than 40 acres. It also features five modular canopies that envelop three sides of a 1.8 million-square-foot port, weaving together a landscape of towers rising behind it and creating a series of covered pedestrian alleyways, a lively retail environment, and interlinked courtyards along the waterfront promenade.

Sculptural canopies inspired by Zhuhai’s maritime history create a lively, low-carbon waterfront community in the burgeoning tech hub on the Pearl River Delta. The forms of the canopies are inspired by the local legend of the Fisher Girl and reflect the fishing nets commonly seen on the coastline throughout the region.

“We wanted our design to resonate with the culture and history of Zhuhai, and to evoke a story that’s familiar to everyone who lives there,” said SOM Design Director Sean Ragasa.

Complementing the site’s maritime heritage is a 1,045-foot-tall tower that rises at the heart of the neighbourhood, creating a recognizable structure with a design inspired by the form of a lighthouse Fresnel lens. The tower comprises 35 floors of office space topped by a 20-story Ritz-Carlton Hotel complete with a sky bar and observation deck. The tower is diagonally bisected by an axis that appears to peel open the facade, revealing a vertical atrium that offers visitors breath taking views of the bay.

Read more SOM project featured in Construction+ Asia:
Nex Tower

The new neighbourhood is designed to utilize Zhuhai’s most abundant natural resources—the sea and sun—to reduce natural gas consumption, conserve water, and create a comfortable environment for residents, office workers, shoppers, and nightlife seekers, helping to activate the site both day and night. The canopies also increase interior comfort and building efficiency by filtering daylight, harvesting energy via photovoltaic panels, and capturing rainwater. — Construction+ Online