This was an early project for MDL, but financial issues delayed it and it has only recently been restarted. MDL was approached by a developer who had acquired a large property consisting mainly of a reservoir. This led to the idea of creating islands where each island would represent a continent. The hospitality projects which would be undertaken on each island would, in terms of architectural styles, reflect the architecture of that continent.
In order to optimise market exposure, a different high profile architect or designer was chosen to design each island. MDL was asked to do ‘Africa’, the whole project, including hotel and restaurants. Although the buildings on each island were to reflect the characteristic architectural styles of a particular continent, it was understood that pastiche was to be avoided in favour of exploring something fundamental in the styles.
MDL, in fact, had expected to be given a European brief and the African brief came as a surprise. This then raised the issue of what kind of architectural reference was possible given the limited typologies in Africa. This led MDL to adopt a ‘left-of-field approach’, testing out images of the jungle landscape and the continent’s native animals.
The name and form of MDL’s scheme originated with a small sculpture of a black panther on Massimo Mercurio’s desk. The formal idea is less to do with a literal rendering of the panther, and more to do with distilling its essence ─ its colour and its sinuous strength. Hence, the hotel’s form is powerfully curvilinear. The heart of the complex are two elevated, linked domes ─ “like mushrooms” ─ which house the F&B component, but which also revolve to provide 360 degree views. Satellite buildings set on low stone podiums radiate out from the core buildings, the whole cluster linked by a high stone feature wall, textured to hint at Egyptian hieroglyphics and so reinforce the African reference. This same stone element is used throughout the complex in the form of extruded curved stone segments which section the round buildings. The podium element makes up a loose ‘eight’ configuration and houses the accommodation, mostly large suites.
Typically, MDL has defined otherwise highly transparent buildings by the use of powerful horizontals at each level of the buildings. These are clad in black stainless steel, creating a striking rhythm out of the contrasting stone, metal and glass.
Tianjin Shining Star Investment Ltd
Commercial / Hospitality
YEAR OF COMPLETION