- Article by Charlotte Huston
Nestled in Chongqing’s urban heart, this project has created a journey through fantasy and natural wonder for local residents.
The Ring pushes the boundaries of the traditional retail environment, which has been turned on its head in recent years by online culture and the pandemic.
As the first of Hongkong Land’s new experience-based retail destinations, the project shifts the emphasis from commercial exchange to social exchange with a connection to nature.
The provision of much-needed accessible public open space, a multitude of facilities, and unique indoor and outdoor experiences are all tailored for the enjoyment of a diverse community.
ASPECT Studios Shanghai studio director Stephen Buckle says The Ring “reinvents the traditional principle of retail.”
“The Ring readdresses critical urban challenges and maps out the future of this location,” he tells ADR.
“By focusing on people and community and providing meaningful publicly accessible open space over short-term gain and commercial dominance, not only have we provided the much-needed public realm facilities, but we have also created an inspirational and unique destination for people of the city to explore.”
In a city as dense and as large as Chongqing, the reinsertion of nature back into urban life requires an imaginative solution, with ASPECT Studio’s design spinning a narrative inspired by the natural environment.
This journey begins in the urban arrival park, which mimics the dreamy undulations of the sea current. Locally-sourced materials have been incorporated to reflect oceanic characteristics and movements.
A metaphorical school of “manta rays” sketched out in groupings of facilities, spaces, lookouts, experiences and shaded seating planters reflects the idea of community.
The impression of light fading into the depths of the ocean is then represented in the tonal transitions of terraces, steps and level changes, which also allow the urban park to mitigate the significant site levels.
This creates a series of usable and accessible community spaces, including areas for art, exhibitions, community gathering, shaded relaxation and active water play.
From the urban park, visitors travel to the community plaza, an event and gathering space framed on either side by elevated lookouts and sculptural artworks and enclosed by terrace seating.
As a major gathering community events space, this space serves a local community of more than 50,000 residents.
The northern edge of the plaza contains a lookout space that floats out of the terrace, allowing people to explore the planting.
At the core of the project, visitors find themselves within an open-air dining street inspired by a forest valley.
Misting systems and a valley water feature provide a passively cooled environment and a unique setting for visitors to enjoy the many cafes and restaurants set among the planting.
While at the highest point of the development, the Sky Gardens provide a peaceful retreat from the busy levels below.
These also offer a much-needed resource for pollinating insects and wildlife.
Photography: Wenjie Wang.
Earlier this year, ADR spoke with Buckle about ASPECT’s Shanghai lifestyle destination The Roof.