The floating islands: Palm Island

HASSELLPalm Island is situated on the banks of Qing Nian Reservoir and the Palm Spring Geological Park Lake in Chongqing, China. The ‘floating Islands’ form a new hospitality precinct within the Palm Springs International Garden; comprising five buildings, collectively housing six restaurants, which have been unified with the surrounding landscape through the meticulous integration of a dramatic water courtyard.

The HASSELL design for Palm Island was inspired by the city’s position at the convergence of the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers. It visually connects the reservoir and the lake; capitalising on the inherent qualities of the existing bodies of water and extending them to create a spectacular, uninterrupted waterscape and an inimitable dining experience. Water is the key design element, and combined with the precise detailing of the built landscape and architectural elements, multiple and ever-changing perspectives have been created. Patrons at each restaurant can enjoy natural water vistas on one side and private water views of the courtyard on the other.

The external, infinity water-platform creates a slick reflection plane that gives the impression that the buildings are floating. Rhythmical passages of local stone slice through the platform creating central pedestrian connections. The elevated platform cleverly conceals the operational aspects of the precinct, with recessed interfaces protecting sightlines while navigating level changes to the services beneath. This allows both public views of the dining areas above the waterline and uninterrupted views in all directions for the patrons within the restaurants.

The design optimises the interplay between light, water and form. The curved glass forms of the buildings combine with the strong vertical waves of their façades to alter the visual density depending on a viewer’s perspective. During the day these white, sunlit contours are reflected on the gently shifting water; the ‘vibrating’ lines evoking a musical quality. Lighting enhances these reflections at night, allowing the shimmering wave patterns to be the strongest visual expression – creating a dreamlike atmosphere.

Chongqing is one of the hottest cities in China, and the need to maintain a comfortable environment for patrons and the sustainable operation of the precinct were important considerations of the overall design solution. Both the reflective façades of the buildings and the cooling breezes created by flow-through ventilation across the water courtyard help to reduce temperatures and energy use. Water is captured for use and recycled within the water features. During the dry season they are supplemented with water from the lake. Grey stone slab and native vegetation have been used for their resilience and to reflect the local character.

Project name: The floating islands: Palm Island
Location: Chongqing, China
Designer: HASSELL
Completion: 2013
Area: 9,600 sqm
Client: Chongqing Palm Springs Real Estate Development
Value: Approx €1.36 million / AUD$1.96 million
Imagery credits: Photography by Luo Wen / Zhang Qianxi

Project Consultants:
Landscape Architect / Architect / Master Planner / Environmental Consultant: HASSELL
Lighting Consultant: Sichuan Ao Ge City Environment Installations construction ltd.
Civil / Electrical / Mechanical / Structural Engineer: Chongqing Architecture Design Institute
Transport Engineer: Chongqing Architecture Design Institute
Sustainability Consultant: Chongqing Architecture Design Institute
Facade Contractor: Chongqing Jin Yue façade construction ltd.
Main Contractor: Chongqing Jiangjin District Xing Mao construction ltd.
Project Manager: Chongqing Palm Springs Real Estate Development

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