The Xixi Wetland Estate was designed by the British architect's Berlin and Shanghai offices for the Xixi National Wetland Park. The park stands on the outskirts of the city, which is located at one end of the world's longest artificial waterway, the Grand Canal.
Long blocks of grey stone were used to construct the 20 duplex apartments, which are arranged on matching grey podiums in the water. All 20 homes are connected by an H-shaped walkway, which is surrounded by aquatic planting. Underground car parking is located below this pedestrianised area.
"The omnipresent relationship between landscape, architecture, and water is key to the atmosphere in Xixi," said the firm. "This atmosphere has been integrated into a new development of apartment buildings."
"The apartment buildings are surrounded by a water garden, which, as a reference to the wetland park, is a mostly wild landscape."
The rectilinear apartments and protruding patios branch off the walkway, forming a village-like community.
Chinese office AZL Architects previously completed a cluster of artists' studios in the marshes of Xixi National Wetland Park. Like Xixi Wetland Estate, these concrete workspaces, which feature translucent walls, are arranged to create the impression of a small village.
"In contrast to these green surroundings, the buildings appear as dark stone volumes embedded in the water garden," said David Chipperfield Architects. "They are, as is typical for villages in Xixi, placed on a stone plinth that sits in the water."
"This plinth forms the base of a village group with various levels, walls, and balustrades creating a sequence of exterior spaces, which enable access to the buildings."
Floor-to-ceiling windows with black slatted screens are designed to maximise view over the water gardens, and white polished surfaces within reflect the abundant natural light.
David Chipperfield Architects has two offices in China – one in Beijing and one in Shanghai. The office has completed a number of projects in Hangzhou, including a copper-covered office block and a housing development with slatted timber facades on the edge of a bamboo forest.
Photography is copyright Simon Menges and used with permission.
Architect: David Chipperfield Architects Berlin, Shanghai
Design: Mark Randel
Project management: Libin Chen
Project architects: Ilona Priwitzer, Manh Kinh Tran, Sascha Jung, Samson Adjei
Contact architect: ECADI (East China Architecture and Design Institute)
Landscape architect: Belt & Collins
Structural engineer: ECADI
Client: Hangzhou Westbrook Investment Company