Led by Ma Yansong, MAD Architects and the China Academy of Building Research (CASR) have won an international competition to design the Cuntan International Cruise Center in Chongqing, China. Currently a cargo terminal, Gantry Crane will become a 65,000 sqm international cruise terminal and city complex, featuring a 15,000 sqm cruise port and over 50,000 sqm of commercial spaces.
The project site covers 66,000 sqm in Chongqing's Liangjiang New Area, which has direct access to the Yangtze River. During the site visits, the team was inspired by the large orange gantry cranes that were installed across the freight terminal, which gave them the impression of "living alien creatures with a sense of surrealism”. With that, the team's design proposal reflected the industrial colors of these cranes, and focused on the original surrealism of the site through elevated buildings that resemble a futuristic, free-walking city.
The scheme, titled the Yangtze River Skywalk, is a 430-metre-long complex made of six separate and interconnected buildings. From a distance, the buildings seem to rise and fall, recreating the rhythm and color of the industrial cranes, and offering an open, unobstructed view of the river. The building's aluminum curtain wall gives the parlor, shops, and restaurants a contemporary and surreal impression. Beneath the floating-like building complex sits a new Cruise Ship Landscape Park and Cruise Ship Hall, designed to extend the Cuntan Central Golden Axis Pier. The intervention establishes a new link between the adjacent Pier Park and the Century Cuntan Park, providing visitors a 100,000 sqm green space and the chance to fully experience the diversity of uses across the site.
Chongqing has mountains and waters. However, the Yangtze River is more than just a natural landscape in Chongqing. Because of human activities such as shipping traffic and industrial transport, this mountain city is also full of energy and movement. We want to transform this energy in Chongqing from traces of industry into an energy that stimulates the imagination. People can feel the kinetic energy of the city here, but also imagine the public spaces of the future. -- Ma Yansong
The Cruise Centre Hub, which sits under the Cruise Ship Landscape Park, provides access to the ‘floating’ complex and the ground level park. Its design includes skylights that allow light natural light towards the interior space, as well as an upper cantilevered building to avoid overbearing direct sunlight.
The design proposal is part of a wider aspiration from local officials to transform the area’s urban environment. Early last year, the Chongqing Municipality adopted the Cuntan International New Town Master Plan and the Cruise Ship Home Port Area Urban Design, with an ambition to create an “integrated ship, port, city, tourism, shopping and entertainment" district: the world’s preeminent river cruise port. Construction of the Cuntan International Cruise Centre is expected to begin in November 2022 and be completed by 2027.