The port city of Dalian in northern China is a city of contrasts. A vibrant center of trade and industry, this rapidly growing metropolis plays an equally important role in the region as one of the country’s most popular vacation destinations. In the city center of Dalian, the Beijing office of the NBBJ architectural firm designed the Eton Place Dalian tower complex as a superlative multifunctional development: five mixed-use towers standing 41 to 81 stories high and a six-story mall transform the 6.23-hectare site into an exclusive microcosm of urban life. The connecting element between the two highest towers is the spacious mall, with a roof designed in a manner reminiscent of a park. Over six floors, it offers a representative atmosphere for high-class boutiques, a luxury department store, elite gastronomy and a supermarket. Large MEDIAMESH® screens from GKD – GEBR. KUFFERATH AG (GKD) running around the corners of the building seize the attention of passers-by at both main entrances. The transparent displays made of filigree stainless steel mesh with integrated LED profiles function as an advertising platform for luxury goods from all over the world and underline the exclusivity of the building complex.
Dalian’s favorable geographical location on the southern tip of the Liaodong peninsula, surrounded by the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea, makes it China’s most northerly ice-free port. Because of this, over the course of centuries the small fishing village has developed into an important naval base and the country’s third-largest trading port. Dalian has been one of China’s few free trade zones since 2006 and is among the 20 busiest container ports worldwide. Numerous multinational corporations produce their goods in the city’s special economic zones, including an increasing number of high-tech companies alongside the oil, chemical, foodstuffs and textile industries. As a center for finance and services, the port city plays a significant role in the economic development of the whole region. Although the city was historically characterized by heavy industry, it understood the need to combine rapid economic growth with environmental protection at an early stage. As a result, Dalian is one of the cleanest cities in China according to the country’s national environmental authority and in 2006 was even named its best city to live in. It’s temperate climate and spectacular surroundings make the city with some six million inhabitants one of the most popular vacation destinations in China and have helped it claim numerous awards as one of the country’s best tourist hotspots. Thanks to the hilly landscape and the high number of trees, Dalian is often called the Hong Kong of the North. Its distinctive skyline with skyscrapers, the sea and the mountains in the background symbolize the city, as do industry and its port as well as long, sandy beaches and luxury shopping.
Byword for international luxury
Reclaimed land on the coast made it possible to move the container port out of the original urban area. New life was gradually breathed back into wasteland left over from former heavy industry plants in the form of modern residential and office towers. A prime example of this is the Eton Place Dalian building complex consisting of five skyscrapers and various adjoining buildings. With its breathtaking view of the city, the port, the northern coast and the mountains to the south, it was designed as a byword for international luxury. At the same time, the design of the NBBJ architectural firm reflects the city’s efforts to establish a balance between the urban and natural environment. The central element of the development is Eton Place Dalian Tower 1, also known as Supertower One. On its 80 floors above ground level, this skyscraper hosts a five-star hotel with 200 rooms, a further hotel with 600 rooms, a viewing platform, sky lobbies, several stories of office space, a fitness center with pool, restaurants and retail stores. Five multi-story, landscaped sky gardens provide an inviting green area for relaxation in the heart of the colossal structure. Thanks to its suspended glass façade, the interior of the 60-story atrium is flooded with light while also granting an excellent view of the charming surroundings. Rising to a height of 383.1 meters, Supertower One not only towers above all of the other skyscrapers in the city, but is also the 23rd highest building in the world. Dalian’s new landmark is located on the main road that links the airport with the main railway station. Its smaller companion, Eton Place Dalian Tower 2, or the so-called Supertower Two, was also designed by NBBJ and is only 278 meters high. The 62 stories above ground floor host 700 apartments, restaurants, shops and a luscious green sky garden.
Screens grace the corners of the diamond
The six-level mall stands at the heart of Eton Place Dalian. This structure aims to set new standards in luxury shopping while also serving as an urban space with public park. The polygonal façade, partially suspended from the third floor, lends it the form of a diamond contoured by delicate bands of light. Irregularly arranged window openings ensure that sufficient daylight also enters the upper levels from the sections covered by the façade. When looking for advertising displays suited to the exclusivity of the complex, the architects chose the transparent media façade system from GKD – GEBR. KUFFERATH AG. The MEDIAMESH® screens made of stainless steel mesh with interwoven rows of LEDs sensitively subordinate themselves to the architecture, allowing the expressive building form to remain visible despite the suspended media display. The two screens are 10.35 meters high and up to 24 meters wide, running over the corner at two entrances and – depending on what is being presented – allowing media to be viewed over an angle of 90°. A total of eleven panels made of almost 455 square meters of metal mesh thus form an attractive frame for the diamond-style building and are a real eye-catcher for passers-by. With a pixel grid of five centimeters in both the horizontal and vertical direction, the displays meet the strictest requirements with regard to color brilliance and reproduction quality around the clock. At the same time, the transparency of the woven textile ensures that daylight can reach the rooms behind the media façade, while the unobstructed views from the building interior through the advertising display were another argument in favor of the tried-and-tested system. The system’s freedom from maintenance, economical energy consumption and robustness as well as its extraordinary appearance also made MEDIAMESH® the perfect choice for this exclusive building design. One challenge for the GKD team was the substructure, which was adapted to the idiosyncratic form of the building and was also to have a sufficient distance to the façade to enable a walkway to be built. With the two large MEDIAMESH® screens mounted across the building corners, the architects succeeded in devising a functional advertising display with a high-quality façade that stylishly underlines the overall impression made by the luxury complex.
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