​As the only municipal administrative centre of Guangzhou, Nansha New District is leading the future to be a free trade zone as the main linkage between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau. Hengli Island, in particular, has been labelled an international financial island, acting as the most integral part of the financial blueprint in activating ​​Pearl Bay, and shall serve as the benchmark for the future CBD of Nansha. Entrusted by China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, Ken Wai, Global Design Principal of Aedas, led the team to create a new landmark that strikes the city’s landscape. The mixed-use project comprises a kindergarten and 3 low-rise buildings of mainly commercial uses by the riverbank, 2 mid-rise buildings for residential, commercial and public service uses in the middle, and 4 high-rise upscale residential towers towards the northern plot. By incorporating an unobstructed river view, and vibrant city life with comprehensive amenities, the project forms a green oasis with close proximity to city living.

The project is a rare find within the city’s financial district, especially with an indulging panoramic view of the river. Located by the riverside of Hengli Island, Nansha District, a planned road runs across the plot and divides it in two. The south side of the plot is adjacent to the riverside ecological green corridor, where residents may enjoy a multi-layered river scenery from different viewpoints. Overlooking the estuary to the east and an endless stretch of river to the west, the plot attains a mesmerising unobscured view of the riverfront. The west and north sides of the plot are office building areas which link to the landmarks in the CBD. Being merely 600 metres away from the IFF Conference Centre, the project allows for city viewing from a prime perspective.

The project has posed several challenges to the team such as requesting a wide scope of functional uses and a high floor area ratio. To maximise flexibility, the design blueprint is altered in a way that different functions are dispersed across the plot to strike a balance between the need for functionality and the users’ spatial comfort. By distributing the buildings by the perimeter, most units can enjoy an all-embracing view of the river. The area is tied together with a central public void adorned with multilevel vegetation. It irrigates and connects different spaces through its porosity, energising the plot to provide an active public response and environmental benefits. Apart from enriching the greening of the residential area, the void coheres with the ecological environment of the city as well. A striking skyline that lights up the riverside is finally achieved with a multi-dimensional layout of buildings with disparate heights.

Our design extends the urban vitality axis by Jinger Road to link it to the riverbank and local landscape. A portal that acts as a symmetrical axis is formed to echo with the design language, achieving an airy and open environment by utilising sunlight and greenery. Individual corridors are also formed in their respective plots to penetrate the riverside landscape into the northern plots, creating an exemplar in blending the urban living experience with natural sceneries.

The team has drawn inspiration from the tip of Hengli Island that points towards the estuary, hence marking "Cloud Palace Above Sea" as the design concept. Comparing the building to a giant cruise ship sailing in the wind, the tower constantly overlooks the river and the vast sea, enjoying the gift of nature from the water and the sky. Through research on spatial structure, layout, and sunlight, the design team fully simulated the shape and viewing experience from a cruise, creating well-proportioned buildings to ensure that the view of the lavish landscape is maximised.

The façade of the residential tower is comprised of aluminium plates, reflecting the surrounding sea and sky. The overall design focuses on adjusting viewing angles to reduce visual obstructions between units, ensuring that the riverscape is accessible to most, to create a top-tier riverfront apartment. The viewing dock at the crown of the tower is ingeniously designed, offering a picturesque view of the river, while enriching the residential experience. Both residential towers stay true to the essence of the design concept in mimicking an experience on a cruise – the balcony itself resembles the viewing deck where you may immerse in the surrounding waters, and savour every moment of life by the river.

Aedas Global Design Principal Ken Wai remarks, “The balance between man and nature is deemed fundamental in the design of residential buildings. Architectural designs should uphold the belief of being people-oriented, directing them to explore the most primitive habitat combined with the pursuit of quality of life and modernity, in order to meet one’s vision of ideal lives.”



Gross Floor Area: 238,700 sq m

Design Director: Ken Wai, Global Design Principal


Aedas Ltd