Sea Weave (Hai Tian)

Haikou, Hainan, China

The design concept is founded on the natural conditions of the littoral site of Hainan Island. While the site is exposed to the harsh elements of nature, the sun, the wind, and flood tides, yet only through its own vulnerability does the site gain its indescribable beauty. Like a living creature, The architecture responds to the sun, the wind, and the sea; breathing in and out, withstanding these natural forces.

This paradox underlies our attitude and approach toward the site and building design. Sea Weave attempts to heighten the awareness of its inhabitants to its implicit natural beauty. Its Chinese name, HAI TIAN is made up of two words HAI = ocean TIAN = farm land. Not unlike agricultural farm land typically found in Hainan, the network system in a form of diamond grid is introduced on the site from the land along the shoreline of Baimajing and extended out toward the ocean. This network system becomes a major artery defining all movement and circulation throughout the site.

Two main programs, commercial retail and serviced apartments, are strategically located within this diamond grid system, taking the most advantage of the site’s vulnerability and beauty. One would be made aware of the natural elements, the sky, the water, the sun, and the wind, wherever one is on the site. The diamond grid system provides great porosity to such a large development. The development is rhythmically divided into smaller enclaves, allowing one to engage with it on a human scale. About five meters above the retail volume lies a horizontal surface defined as an artificial rolling landscape of park and garden. This rolling landscape identifies the clear boundary between the public program of commercial retail and the private program of residential serviced apartments. It also provides shade to the outdoor market (the rooftop space of the actual retail enclave) right below it, which is most desirable in such hot climate as in Hainan Island.

Taking a sustainable design approach, the design proposes very little alteration to the topography of the site. The diamond grid system will be built on stilts, allowing erosion and flood tides, and other natural phenomena to take place. The diamond grid system will determine programmatic arrangement and bend towards the orientation of the prevailing wind to maximize natural ventilation. The architecture becomes instrumental in gauging nature, not controlling it…. allowing humans to observe and experience its impermanent beauty. One can physically and visually experience the fluctuation of the sea level below while moving along the pedestrian walkways through the enclave of retail with an ocean view and the open sky at the end of each walkway.

To describe the two major architectural elements more simply, the diamond grid system is the bones and arteries, and the horizontal surface is the skin that is stretched over and interweaves with the diamond grid system – denser grids and more opaque surface for commercial retail, more stretched apart and porous in the residential complex. This landscape surface ultimately slips under the grid to create the space for a yacht club, restaurant, gym, and swimming pool beneath the upper piers of retail at two meters above sea level. Situated at the end tip of this park landscape, the Yacht Club, Restaurant, Gym and Swimming Pool will be engulfed by spectacular views of a horizon where the deep blue of the ocean meets the bright blue sky. They will become a new Baimajing highlight: a destination for both locals and travellers on Yang Pu Bay at the edge of the South China Sea.

Hovering on top of the park landscape is the enclave of serviced apartment towers ranging from five stories to two stories in height from North to South and East to West, thus avoiding obstruction of the view and avoid creating solid boundary along the street front. The variation of living unit types will be considered for each serviced apartment enclave. Each enclave faces the ocean so that all apartment units take in the spectacular view of the South China Sea. Each enclave of the serviced apartments is designed with great convenience and maximum privacy as a high priority, by providing high security and its own exclusive entrance lobby and public amenities. Each rooftop tower is designed with a channeled slope surface to collect the amount of water and let it run through downspouts along the building to the ground. Photovoltaic panels will be considered to be installed on the rooftop of these serviced apartment towers as alternative energy generators using solar radiation.

As the bridge across the Yangpu Bay is underway, “Sea Weave” will become spectacular landmark seen from the bridge as exemplary ecological conscious development for the Hainan’s future.

Design Team:
Raveevarn Choksombatchai, Sophy Shi, Kiley Feickert, Norbert Wong, Peter Suen, John Flaherty