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Friday, December 19, 2008

24 City, Chengdu, China

Modern Chengdu development focuses on youth market

Just seven months ago 4.8 million residents in China were made homeless and more than 69,000 killed by the Sichuan earthquake which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. Less than three months later this devastation was overshadowed by an international force as the Olympics came to Beijing. Now though, as the dust has settled on both the earthquake and the Games, the rebuilding of a nation can start to be realised.

Chengdu was the worst hit city, being just 80 km away from the epicentre, but is now set to be the location of a new urban community, named 24 City, which will house 60,000 new residents. China Resources Land Limited as developer for the project have selected Callison to design phase one of the 3.3 million sq ft mixed-use project which will also include a 38-storey office tower and an indoor/outdoor retail center.

In an effort to encourage and provide for young professionals moving into Chengdu, (Chengdu is host to 16 degree level universities), Callison’s design provides for a youthful and uplifting lifestyle. This is a design for living, not for relief. A hybrid retail complex modulates indoor/outdoor shopping and entertainment among lush landscaping and expansive view terraces. There is even an indoor skating rink, an 8-screen movie complex and a supermarket in the lower level of the office tower. Restaurants and the public garden will remain open after the center closes, offering public events and providing night-time entertainment for residents and visitors.

While the complex will provide much needed housing in Chengdu and create a new wave of living quarter, it had been the subject of some controversy documented in a feature-length film by Chinese Director Jia Zhang Ke. '24 City', a documentary-drama filmed before the earthquake struck, tells the story of the lives of those who worked in the factory which was demolished to make way for the complex. “420” factory was once a military aeroplane engine plant but in more recent, peaceful times produced consumer goods. Its closure left many who worked there for decades out of work. Despite the controversy the project is set to go ahead and design development will be completed by Callison before the Chinese New Year. Ground-breaking is scheduled for March 2009.

Niki May Young
News Editor
architecture NOW

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