South Bund Financial Center

Realizing the potential of a key riverfront site, our urban design employs a unique approach to historic preservation and redevelopment to create a destination for commerce and culture.

Project Facts
  • Size Building Height: 80 meters Number of Stories: 17 Building Gross Area: 274,880 square meters
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED ND Gold, ND, Gold
Project Facts
  • Size Building Height: 80 meters Number of Stories: 17 Building Gross Area: 274,880 square meters
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED ND Gold, ND, Gold

Transforming a singular riverfront site

SOM’s design for the South Bund Financial Center envisions a dynamic renewal of one of the last remaining areas along the South Bund that has not yet been redeveloped. At this key location, just north of the landmark Nanpu Bridge, and with connections to the river promenade, the South Bund Financial Center is poised to become a thriving part of Shanghai’s contemporary riverfront.

In contrast to other redevelopment projects in Shanghai, our masterplan strikes a careful and intentional balance between historic preservation and new construction. The plan aims to retain and preserve historic buildings, while floating new office buildings above them—creating a dynamic mix of uses that will realize the area’s potential to become a commercial and cultural destination. In this way, the project offers a compelling model for how to preserve and redevelop historic industrial sites throughout China.

Balancing preservation and redevelopment

The master plan restores the pattern of streets, yards, and alleyways that characterized the historic industrial waterfront. Our team conducted extensive research on the historical buildings located on the site, followed by an assessment of how to best integrate heritage assets into a thriving, contemporary business and recreation district. We adopted a range of strategies, tailored to each building: preservation in place, reconstruction, and architectural transformation. Extraneous and inappropriate infill buildings are removed in order to reinstate the historic alleys. The result is a richly textured district with buildings at a variety of scales, materials, and uses.

A pedestrian-focused district with places to gather

The masterplan prioritizes a walkable district by restricting cars to the perimeter of the site. The design of the streets and plazas integrate the old and new buildings into a cohesive district with a distinct sense of place. 

While historic alleys and industrial buildings define the experience of the waterfront, contemporary office buildings are poised above and staggered to maximize views and daylight. Engineered to create a sense of lightness, the new buildings are cantilevered above the historic waterfront structures.

The design adds to the existing promenade with a series of new platform parks, fully accessible to the public. Perched above the seawall, these elevated terraces offer magnificent views above the riverfront. Elevated walkways, reminiscent of maritime gangways once found along the waterfront, connect the terraces to create a network of shaded public spaces. The terraces can accommodate a range of activities, from fitness classes to weekend markets.

Situated at a geographic and historic crossroads of development within the city, our project seeks to be a bridge from Old Shanghai, in its many forms, to New Shanghai as a global cultural and economic center.

A sustainable and resilient development

The team adopted design strategies to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the development and to reinforce health and wellbeing. Each building is connected to the multi-level public realm, enabling easy circulation and encouraging mass transit or bicycle use. Buildings are oriented to allow air flow through the site while shielding from harsh northwestern winds.

Historic preservation is an inherently sustainable approach, and retaining and repurposing existing structures minimizes the embodied carbon footprint of the development. New buildings incorporate passive design strategies to shade the interiors and reduce energy needs.

The building facades are designed with vertical fins that cut down on solar heat gain. The facades also incorporate operable panels to allow for fresh air intake. Floor-to-ceiling insulated glass units maximize access to daylight and views.

All roof surfaces within the development are designed to mitigate the urban heat island effect with light-reflecting surfaces. They also incorporate absorptive materials to slow rainwater runoff. Photovoltaic panels, positioned around the rooftop mechanical elements, provide renewable energy for the district.

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