South Sea Pearl

Diller Scofidio + Renfro wins competition to design artificial island complex in China

Development International
(Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro)
(Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro)

New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) has trumped nine other studios in a competition to masterplan a man-made island in Haikou Bay, China. In doing so, DS+R beat off Foster + Partners, UN Studio, and fellow New York practice Morphosis Architects to design 250-acre plot of land.

The crescent-shaped island is officially known as the South Sea Pearl Artificial Island and is located in China’s Hainan province. It will be joined to Hainan—itself a large island off the south Chinese coast—by a bridge. Chinese developer HNA Group, the group funding the project, wants to create an eco-tourism hub complete with a hotel complex, theme park, yacht harbor, and cruise ship port. The total price tag will be $1.25 billion.

“Our studio worked for a couple of months to imagine how to take this amount of land and how to consolidate all the building program in the smallest footprint possible, but also in a very natural land form,” said Elizabeth Diller, a partner at DS+R, in an interview with Chinese news service CCTV. “It’s a stitching of nature and culture together, so we’re very excited about that,” she added.

Meanwhile, Ni Qiang, the mayor of Haikou, spoke of the economic implications and what the project will mean to the island in a general sense. “This island will not only help boost local economic growth and create more jobs but also bring some of the world’s most advanced concepts in urban development to China,” he said.

Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and take approximately a decade, wrapping up in 2027.

The other offices that competed were: Office of Architecture in Barcelona; Seoul-based Iroje Architects & Planners; Rotterdam-based KuiperCompagnons; Los Angeles-based The Jerde Partnership, Beijing-based CCDI, and internationally-based Boston International Design Group.

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