• Client:
  • Undisclosed
  • Location:
  • Harbin, China
  • Partners:
  • Arup Sydney/China
  • Status:
  • Concept Development 2011
  • Size:
  • 530,000 sqm


Icebergs, quartz crystal formations and elegant swans are the design inspiration for a proposed new hotel, retail and cultural centre in Harbin. Ten quartz crystal towers of varying heights reference Harbin’s famous Ice Festival. Their transparent facades glow as an electro-light display celebrating the colours of light and highlighting building functions.

An hexagonal voronoi grid arrangement generated easily accessible areas. The vertical linear geometry had sharpened tops housing special functions such as ballrooms and sky bars.

Due to Harbin’s harsh climate, a double skin is used on the facades. Winter gardens provide a thermal buffer zone widening to become sheltered loggias.

The clash of fire and ice in the dramatic crystalline hotel lobby draws guests into a warm, cave-like interior. Curvaceous balustrades, morphed floor levels and ‘stalagtite’ drops are inspired by molten lava. The quartz crystal shape creates views, different scales and individualised rooms. The ballroom is inspired by a “rose petal” motif fed into a mathematical formula creating spectacular patterns and experiences. Warm tones of the interior materiality – timber, leather and wool – complement curvaceuous forms, cocooning guests in comfort.

Podiums house retail, accessible from the street, generating increased traffic and relationship to the surrounding areas. Seven voids cut through the retail vertically and glazed building peaks connect the different floors and flood the mall with natural light.

An elegant swan shaped concert hall separates shell and audience balconies, so audiences ‘float’ in the space and are surrounded by music. The acoustical reflector floating above the stage contains stage lightning, whilst a rooftop aperture gives natural light, its illumination at night advertising cultural activity.


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Design: Toko / Development: Damien Aistrope