Raffles City Chongqing

Chongqing, China, 2020 / Built

Raffles City Chongqing brings new life to historic Chaotianmen Square. Exploring new approaches to urban design, the monumental 3D city and integrated complex, acts as a catalyst for downtown regeneration, creating a new icon for Chongqing, a megacity in western China.

Sitting at the confluence of China’s two major rivers, the Yangtze and Jialing, Raffles City Chongqing has become a new symbol for the city, with its design recalling the site’s historic role as an imperial city gate and maritime trading post. The project continues the firm’s exploration of vertical neighborhoods, livable urban communities, and thoughtfully connected public spaces.

Embedded within the city’s densely developed grid, Raffles City Chongqing—which combines office, residential, hotel, serviced apartments, retail, and recreational facilities—has sparked revitalization around its waterfront site. Located at the heart of one of the world’s fastest growing cities in an area with limited public parks, the development provides over 30,000 sq. m. of public space including outdoor and community gathering spaces. The development integrates multiple access points aligned with the city’s undulating topography, an innovative traffic diversion system, and a new public walkway that cuts through the five levels of the retail mall to provide a direct connection between the podium park and Chaotianmen Square.

Inherently site-specific, the design for Raffles City Chongqing celebrates the city’s history and unique character while accommodating its mountainous landscape and extreme climate.

At a height of 250m, the Crystal is a fully programmed horizontal skyscraper housing over 10,000 sq. m. of amenities. Enclosed by a concertina structural frame with an integrated curtainwall comprised of 3,000 pieces of glass and 5,000 aluminum panels, the Crystal’s gardens and amenities are open to visitors year-round.

The 300m-long Crystal features amenities that include multiple dining, bar and event spaces; a hotel lobby; and a members-only clubhouse with a 50m-long infinity pool.

Raffles City Chongqing is composed of eight towers in total, with six southern towers rising to 250m and two northern towers to 350m. Five towers are dedicated for residential use, including one of the northern towers, making it the tallest residential building in China. The second 350m-tall tower houses office space up to the level of the skybridge, where it then transitions to a hotel. The remaining towers include a dedicated office tower and one mixed-use tower, with offices and serviced apartments.

Set between the towers, the gallerias create logical interior ‘streets’ that run through the retail podium towards Chaotianmen Square. Each of these interior streets are generously endowed with natural light from continuous skylights that offer views of the towers above. Two additional gallerias run east to west and provide visitors with views towards the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers. This system of gallerias, punctuated by the nodes at their intersection, allows visitors to orient themselves within the 235,000 sq. m. mall.

Gateway Park at the podium level is accessed directly from the district’s higher elevation streets and connects to a straight staircase, reminiscent of the terraced stairs that are characteristic of the city, to provide a pedestrian link between the upper city and Chaotianmen Square. This new public walkway cuts through the five levels of the retail mall and connects to the Square.

The design of Gateway Park, which takes inspiration from the city’s hilly terrain, comprises a network of green and open spaces that also feature public art commissions, including sculptures by Chinese artists Zheng Lu and Jian Xingtao, and a series of water features, including interactive fountains and pools along the public path from the city streets to the upper plaza, overlooking the Square.


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