Raffling with China

Safdie Architects completes first phase of enormous mixed-use complex with horizontal skyscraper

The eight skyscrapers and "horizontal skyscraper“ defining Raffles City are designed to recall the bending of ancient Chinese sails in the wind. (Courtesy Safdie Architects)

The first phase of Raffles City Chongqing, a 22.7-acre skyscraper development in the burgeoning city of Chongqing in southwestern China, has been recently completed. Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, Raffles City is sited on the waterfront of the Yuzhong District made up of eight vertical skyscrapers and one “horizontal skyscraper,” comprising a total of 11 million square feet of occupiable space. Raffles City is the fourth project Safdie Architects has designed in collaboration with Capitaland, one of the largest real estate developers based in Asia, and is by far the largest project the firm has ever built.

The first phase of the development’s completion was signaled by the opening of a five-story mall within a retail podium, 95 percent of which has already been leased. According to Capitaland, the mall alone is expected to accommodate 400,000 daily visitors across its 2.5 million square feet of retail space. When complete, five of the Raffles City towers will be primarily residential with approximately 1,400 luxury apartments (one of which, at 1,150 feet tall, will become the tallest residential tower in China when complete), while the others will accommodate a total of 1.6 million square feet of office space, 380 hotel rooms and several other programs.

Interior photo from within a curved glass facade with a pool, inside Raffles City

The Crystal is perched above four of the eight skyscrapers and will feature an infinity pool and related recreational programming. (Courtesy Safdie Architects)

Perched above four of the towers is a 980-foot-long “horizontal skyscraper,” named The Crystal, which will contain gardens, dining spaces, a clubhouse and an infinity pool set within its cylindrical expanse. This distinct feature recalls the Skypark, a three-acre recreational space resting atop the three skyscrapers constituting the Marina Bay Sands Hotel the firm completed in Singapore in 2010. From a distance, the curved facades of Raffles City are designed to recall the prow-like arcs of “a fleet of ancient Chinese ships,” according to the architects.

Safdie Architects began designing Raffles City eight years ago and, with international company Arup Group as the structural engineers and LEED consultants, the building is working towards LEED Gold Level certification. Following the landmark opening of Raffles City’s first phase, the remaining majority of the megadevelopment is anticipated to open by the middle of 2020.

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