Chaotianmen Square stands on a commanding promontory overlooking the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers and, as such, acts as a major gateway to the historic metropolis of Chongqing. The client’s brief called for a design that would reflect the city’s great past — known for its surrounding forests and impregnable citadel — while also looking towards the future. Planning had been granted for a development of some 400,000 square metres above podium level, for offices, hotels and other commercial activities, with a further 370,000 square metres below, spread over seven extensive basement levels and terraces that would descend to the ferry terminals beside the river. Read more
The design solution proposed a composition of four towers, each 56 storeys high, positioned at the corners of a generous public square planted with Banyan trees. The towers symbolically represented a four-pillared gateway — as well as the four winds, the four seasons, and the four points of the compass — and were set out to proportions based on a simple geometry of intersecting squares and circles. In the final design, each tower measured 40 x 40 metres in plan and stood 80 metres from its neighbour.
Below the square, the seven basement levels accommodated extensive retail, tourist and other commercial activities, while also providing links to a sophisticated transport network that included the riverside ferry terminals, a long-distance coach station, the local bus depot and a new station for the city’s subway system. Terraces at each level offered space for external activiites with spectacular views out over the river.