International Design Competition for South Sea Peral Ecological Island

Haikou CN

The Quest for Life in Balance

HNA group invited 10 internationally renowned architecture and urban design firms to deliver a master plan for South Sea Pearl Ecological Island, an artificial island (with an area of about 256 ha.) off the coast of the city of Hainan, on the island of Hainan in the South China Sea. The firms were requested to deliver an iconic design, putting Haikou on the global map of (eco-) tourism, in which a terminal for cruise ships should play a significant role.

The shape of the already existent island, like a Yin-Yang sign, possesses a highly symbolic value; it represents Balance, in the broadest sense of the word. In our Masterplan for Pearl Island, the shapes of a Dragon and a Phoenix can be recognized, dancing around a Pearl. These metaphors stem from an ancient Chinese fairytale, and also represent Balance; between land and sea, male and female, man and nature.

The location of most of the buildings on the edges of the Island, on the outer circle, has several advantages. In this way, the buildings emphasize the shape of the Island, which can be can be recognised from all around, even at sea level. The Island thus becomes a visible Icon, not merely when seen from the sky.

From within, the undulating buildings around the edge, applied with green accessible roofs and green terraces, form the green rim of a valley, enclosing the interior thematic parks (Nature, Leisure, Nurture) and protecting them from the elements.

When approaching the Island, either by land or by sea, its impressive contours can be seen from afar. From sea, it is accessed through a Gateway, formed by a Bridge that guards the harbour of the Island as a modern day Colossus. One passes underneath it and enters a new world that, perceived from the harbour unfolds itself as a lush, green, tropical Paradise.

Seated on the edge of the Harbour is the Pearl, central focus point of the Island, which houses the cruise terminal and the main shopping mall. The rest of the Island is draped around it. On either side of the Pearl, the heads of the Dragon and the Phoenix are positioned. The Dragon’s head houses Pearl Island Opera, and the Phoenix Head is the Pearl Island Museum of Art.

Because the FAR of the Island should be kept low (between 1 and 1,5), some of the larger elements (like the football stadium) are put outside the islands, as (semi-) floating structures. The interior harbor contains various floating boardwalks and even beaches, making the water accessible, despite the large height of the quay, of over 6 meters.


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