Benoy Shares Insight into Trends for Mixed-use Developments

28 September 2014

Benoy, international award-winning firm of Architects, Masterplanners, Interior and Graphic Designers, is proud to showcase its portfolio as part of a ‘Trends in Mixed-Use Developments’ panel discussion in Chengdu. The event held at Benoy’s western China flagship development, Chengdu International Finance Square (IFS), highlighted the firm’s leadership in the sector and the understanding of what will influence the design of mixed-activity developments both now and in the future.

“When we considered the top trends for the mixed-use sector, we looked for examples where the design had elevated mixed-used schemes beyond their typical commercial components,” commented Ferdinand Cheung, Director at Benoy.

“Our work definitely lends itself to realising the full potential of all available space within a scheme and creating a strong personality and connection to the location. Understanding and pre-empting the shift in consumer preferences is also extremely important in creating successful and dynamic destinations.”

Looking to the firm’s portfolio, Benoy’s Directors shared insight into which trends are influencing the mixed-use sector and how these are being realised in Benoy’s designs.

Rooftop Destinations – Developing the rooftops of mixed-use developments into functional spaces can help give back green, civic areas to the community. As seen with Chengdu IFS, the development was transformed by its vast landscaped rooftop oasis which sits above the retail podium. The space offers a sculpture garden, art gallery and al fresco dining precinct to create a cultural heart for the city.

Local Design – Reinterpreting local and historical architectural styles into large-scale, mixed-use developments allows these modern schemes to build a sense of place. The completed Shanghai ICC inspired by the old shikumen houses of Shanghai and the future Sichuan Urban Complex in western China with its pitched roofs referencing the vernacular architecture of Chengdu are prime examples of this trend.

Adaptive Reuse – Revitalising old buildings and retaining their character for future generations is an exciting step forward for the sector. DreamCenter in Shanghai is currently one of China’s largest cultural investment projects and is located on the site of past cement factory. The masterplan incorporates the industrial buildings into the future plans and so instead of being demolished they will be refurbished into new landmarks for the city.

Natural Assets – New mixed-use developments should consider the existing local landscape and look to preserve the environmental assets of a site. Lan Kwai Fong Wuxi for example has embraced the local connection to canals and water. The natural waterway which runs through the development has become one of the main features. The Beach in Dubai also showcases this trend. The mixed-activity precinct features a series of landscaped plazas which integrate with its waterfront setting. Located on the Dubai Marina, the ocean forms the focal point of the scheme.

New Workforce – As our cities rapidly urbanise and the workforce grows, commercial design that enables a more sustainable and healthy environment should be prioritised. As seen with Qian Tan Office Park in Shanghai, an eclectic and accessible mix of outdoor spaces, sustainable design and pedestrian-friendly strategies help to enhance our future workplaces. Similarly Westgate in Singapore brings to the district a 20-storey commercial tower which seamlessly connects to a vibrant semi-outdoor retail and dining precinct. With vertical landscaped gardens, water features and green public spaces, the development offers an oasis for the working community.

Experiential Spaces – Leisure and adventure destinations have always been big draw cards in major cities, and now we are now seeing a new wave of recreational, mixed-activity developments. Urban Adventure is one such example and the thinking behind the scheme is simple – combine extreme sports with stimulating, recreational activities to create a thrilling, year-round, weatherproof environment that appeals to all ages and abilities. The first flagship will be developed in the UK and will offer over 45 indoor and outdoor activities in the compact 61,000m2 development.

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