Masterplan concepts and major architectural highlights for Hunan OCT Caoqiao Cultural Commercial Street in China have been revealed by architectural practice LWK + PARTNERS. It is as one of the two new leisure-cultural projects collaborated with Overseas Chinese Town, the other being a site in the city of Xiangyang, following the earlier Zhongshan OCT Harbour. These projects continue to show their shared commitment to embrace natural ecology in quality urban communities.
Hunan OCT Caoqiao Cultural Commercial Street is part of Laiyan New Town in Hengyang and shares its vision to create a multifunctional urban space with a mix of recreational tourism and city living. It will be developed in three phases: the first focuses on well-curated consumer experience, the second proposes a kind of cultural living that combines tradition and modernity, and the third outlines a community that supports creativity, business and habitation with high-rise apartment blocks.
Building on cultural legacy
The Caoqiao project is named after the nearby Qingcao Bridge, an area once bustled with numerous local taverns, forming one of the famous ‘eight wonders of Hengyang’. Inspired by its celebrated past, the masterplan of this project aims to re-create the vibrancy with throngs of exciting lifestyle elements like local gourmet, cultural experiences, shopping, health and entertainments – all connected by a central Caoqiao Street with vernacular buildings on both sides. A blend of traditional courtyards and modern commercial design forms a distinctive experience for customers.
Open spaces at six major spots provide a diversity of events and performance venues, including the Caoqiao Main Square (also the project’s main entrance), a food alley, an atrium with water features, an outdoor stage, a courtyard theatre and a community garden. People are encouraged to take in art and culture as part of daily life to pass down the heritage.
A number of green, engaging promenades are laid along the riverfront, bringing nature into commercial spaces and fostering a healthy, walkable landscape for the community.
Water streams and bridges are a pair of classic landscape features that often appear side by side in Chinese art and literature. This project uses them as a space connection tool to energise the nostalgically designed streetscape. Some buildings even have their upper-floor spaces connected by footbridges to bring customers on a multilayered journey with maximised flexibility.
The apartment blocks provide different layouts but with a common intention to create a laid-back lifestyle with everyday needs conveniently at hand. First levels are reserved as a layer of green space with communal platforms inserted on higher levels, inviting natural wind as well as beautiful river views into the living space. Green roofs are installed in the commercial zones to reduce the needs of air-conditioning and relieve heat-island effects.
Connecting old and new
Architecture is the face of people’s livelihoods and throughout history it has also carried along unique customs. Hunan OCT Caoqiao Cultural Commercial Street is set to become a healthy community empowered by innovative façades, commercial design and green building features. By relating to local streetscape, architecture and cultural heritage, it also strikes an interesting dialogue with nearby relics like Shigu Academy, Qingcao Bridge and the former navy base of Hunan.