Love Island’ is a mixed use development with focus on touristic and commercial functions, located in the city centre of Changde. The plot, incorporating an extensive river landscape park, extends between two bridges across the Chuanzi River.

It is part of a bigger touristic development that stretches for more than 2 kilometres along the river which then flows into Liuye Lake with further tourist attractions.

The design of this development was preceded by a careful analysis of the potentials of the site, and based on a business plan that focused on a general concept of couple’s love and all kinds of businesses related with the wedding market.

Location
Changde, Hunan Province / China
Client
Changde Jingshanshui Investment Co., Ltd. / Wasser Hannover GmbH
Design / close of construction
2014-2018 / 2018.5 (provisional stop of construction)
Construction land
6.7 ha, plus adjacent (about triple sized) public park
Gross Floor Area
54,700 m² (incl. 18,300m² underground functions)
Uses
2 five star hotels, 4 multi-functional event & celebration halls, mixed-use commercial areas, love themed museum
The business concept aims at a vivid inner-city distric …

The business concept aims at a vivid inner-city district with multifunctional 24/7 uses in all floor levels – the mere opposite of any sort of Potemkin village that is dead after 6pm and above ground floor.
In contrast to the neighbouring ‘German Street’, the ‘Love’ theme suggested a more Latin inspired architecture with the warm atmosphere of the Mediterranean in the language of buildings, in colours, materials, open space design and landscape.

Size and location of the site inspired the proposal of a distinct urban structure of South-European character. European architecture from different epochs creates the atmosphere of a Mediterranean town, with small streets and alleys and a central plaza, and an overall flexible structure that can adequately host different functions.

The site with the Chuanzi River running in the south provides a unique and very valuable landscape with outstanding views toward the river, and also views from the river to the site. This feature is advantageous for restaurants and hotels, for water events and sport activities. For the opposite riverside and neighbouring residential areas it provides high-quality living adjacent to the water and to recreational areas. Last not least, the riverside park is extremely valuable for photo-shooting and hosting special events, here with a special focus on wedding or engagement celebrations.

A user-oriented concept: People and love

The project’s success lies on attracting the biggest possible variety of users: Young and old families, couples and singles, well educated & culturally interested people, or simply curious visitors with the wish to immerge into a foreign world to find distraction.
Why will people come? Who will come, and what will they do?
• People meeting people: Whether coming alone or with some friends, this is the right place to meet a special someone and fall in love.
• Couples in love: Young couples or older ones can enjoy a variety of activities while getting the chance to know each other even better or re-kindle their love
• Engagement: To propose to a loved person, ‘Love Island’ can guarantee the most romantic sceneries and events for a great surprise.
• Getting married: For a special and planned wedding the area provides various options for each couple and their families, for the preparations and for the day of marriage. Last not least by having ceremonies in opulent and exotic banquet halls with splendid river views and romantic Renaissance gardens in front.
• Families, neighbours and residents: Everyone in the surrounding areas will feel very welcomed to come and spend a nice day in family due to the countless fun activities available

The aim is to have non-stop day & night use during all seasons (24/7/365)
• Eating & drinking (catering): With facilities for day & night use, with close connection to European culture, theme restaurants, specialties restaurants from different countries, gourmet and typical (fast) food restaurants, bars, cafés, ice-cream parlours and juice shops.
• Outdoor activities: Renting shops for roller skaters, segways, tandem bicycles, paddle boats, canoes. Relaxing in the park, photo shooting. Seasonal markets like Christmas market, fish market, autumn fruit market, Easter market, flower market. European (national) festivals or events, like French wine festival. Cultural events like annual open air concerts (pop music in spring, classical music in autumn), shows, theatre, dancing or acrobatic festivals. All kinds of water sports or activities combined with water
• Indoor activities: Museum, cinema, speed-dating place, KTV, amusement arcades. Roman bath, wellness, spa, beauty salons. Wedding-related services like ceremony facilities, dancing school, photography studios, travel agencies.
• Shopping: All kinds of shops related with weddings (fashion, jewelry), food specialties shops (wines, bakery, chocolates). Wedding related arts and crafts from European countries.
• Hotels: Honeymoon hotel; small boutique hotels with at least 5 star standard

Urban and landscape structure

The masterplan proposes a playful arrangement with denser and less dense structures. The urban pattern develops different kinds of open spaces, yards and atriums, public squares and enclosed garden courtyards, with different degree of privacy, furthermore landscape-like gardens towards the river. The area features winding alleys with an intimate village-like atmosphere, and a big central plaza with the most representative buildings, suitable for hosting the main events and celebrations.
The church is the core and focal point of the development and its campanile is the outstanding landmark that can be seen from almost any location surrounding.

The overall urban character is romantic, elegant and relaxing.
Since one of the most important commercial concepts is wedding photography, all buildings and open spaces have been designed to serve as outstanding sets for outdoor photo-shooting.
All buildings have 2-4 levels, and towards the river, elegant and eye-catching facades.

The structural arrangement ensures that density, volume and fragmentation of the buildings are diversified according to the different functions that they occupy.
The circulation system of the site is a dense net of walkways with different hierarchies. The structure is highly permeable. Many passages run through the site in north-south-direction. With an additional landscape-axis, the waterfront and the park are connected with the urban hinterland.
A main walkway runs through the area from west to east, ending in the main plaza and focusing on the Bell Tower.
The main square also contains the main gate towards the complex, thus becoming the main articulator of all circulations.

The church is the iconic building in the main plaza and is, with its apse, directly related to the river landscape. A large lawn (with small groups of trees) surrounds the church and opens towards the river for outside activities.
With a long flight of steps the green area gently slopes down to the water and provides nice views over the riverside park, which includes groups of palm trees reminding of the Mediterranean.
In the other direction the open lawn allows good views to the church and the preeminent Bell Tower.

The required parking lots are mostly arranged under the elevated platform of the lawn. Additional surface parking space is available near the main entrance and the hotels.

Architecture

The design style is Mediterranean and Southern European, comprising stylistic and typological references from Spain, Italy, France and Portugal.
The aim was to achieve a charming mixture of simple and elegant buildings in a combination of different styles and epochs, which also inspire the thematic flavour of the private gardens. One of the rare instructions from the investor and operator was to focus on styles predating the 20th century; nonetheless some modernist or clearly contemporary buildings are included to create a more authentic and less artificial atmosphere.

The materials used for facades are mainly plaster, in Mediterranean pastel colours and textures, mixed with grey or beige colour natural stones and red clay roof tiles.
Facades are symmetrical, hierarchical, repetitive surrounding the main plaza and facing the river; they are more random along the smaller alleys, imitating a quasi naturally grown town quarter.
Main architectural design elements are arcades, balconies with metal railings, stone window frames, friezes and roof mouldings, columns and arches, terraces, pergolas and garden colonnades, as well as pavements and vaulted arcade ceilings.
Additionally, the overall lighting design and signage complete the comprehensive European style, as well as the careful and sensitive landscape design by LML, Berlin.

The secularized church – hosting a theatre-like multi-functional event space and named “Florentine Hall” – is the central element of ‘Love Island’, in architecture and in its immediate creation of urbanity. Its transitional location creates two totally different aspects. On one side we find the typical urban arrangement with a regular church-square and the irregular “village” behind. On the other (back-) side is the church surrounded by a vast lawn which gives an almost rural, countryside-like character.

Areas and typologies

• The  “S p a n i s h   v i l l a g e” (A10-A15): Inspired in traditional Spanish or Italian small towns, this area creates a small village with main and secondary alleys, passages, bridges connecting buildings over the street, with enchanted roof terraces and a small intimate plaza, ‘Piazza Cupido’.
• The  “I t a l i a n  P i a z z a” (A4-A9, A16): Inspired in the main squares of notable Italian cities such as Venice and Florence, the ‘Piazza del Primo Bacio’ hosts buildings for high class restaurants, shops and hotels.
The buildings are inspired in a mix of civic Italian and Spanish renaissance palaces, the church – in its main façade – by ‘Santa Maria della Croce’ in Florence, the Bell Tower by that in Rovinj in Croatia. Furthermore two expressions of modern architecture (A4, A8) can be found, the latter inspired in the ‘Palazzo da Civilità Italiana’ of the early modern movement in Rome. An urban colonnade flanks the sides of the plaza and includes the main gate to the compound, in the shape of a colonnade with fountain.
• The  “R u r a l  P a l a c e s” (A1, A2, A3): This group of three buildings meant to host wedding banquets and celebrations, are inspired in traditional rural palace architecture from France, Italy and Portugal. Each has its own private garden for outdoor celebrations, with richly ornamented landscape, enclosed and protected by a colonnade.
• The  “L o v e  M u s e u m” (A0): Finally, this piece of contemporary architectural design is meant to be a landmark on the river, visible from all adjoining waterfronts. It establishes an axial relation with the bell tower of the church, in close relation with the water and harmonious integration into the landscape of the park.
The architecture is modern, with light coloured steel and transparent glass as main materials. The building’s shape is a composition of two intertwined wedding rings, with a sculptural diamond in the center. Both rings create a continuous exhibition space, a linear exhibition that becomes a loop. The rings are interconnected to create continuity between inside and outside, indoor exhibition, outdoor exhibition and riverside terrace.
In the center: the Diamond, a glass-clad sculptural platform for multimedia exhibition.

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Scope of services
Programming and business concept, constructional urban planning, architectural design development, construction drawing check | Interior design, signage design and lighting design (guidance & coordination)
Project team
Wolf Loebel, Li Ran, Pablo Molina, Dong Yan, David Serrano, Ignacio Alonso, Rita Lourenço, Li Shiwei, Xiong Yan, Alev Selcuk, Andreea Hriscu, Dong Bo, Zhao Huanhuan, Qian Yanbin, Kseniya Kapitonova, Wang Menglin, Qu Xian, Du Jingjing
Landscape and Open space design
Levin Monsigny Landscape architects (Berlin/Germany)
Overall lighting design
Liquidesign / Groupe J Limited (Beijing, Hong Kong, Paris)
Signage design
ECHO Environmental Planning and Design Co., Ltd. (Beijing)
Interior design
Carlo De Mattia Architects (Macerata/Italy): Hotels, Banquet Halls, Love Museum, Tourist Information Bureau; RhineScheme (Beijing): Arcades & Colonnades, Florentine Hall (Church)