Situated on a series of peninsulas stretching into the sea, Dalian is known for its scenic oceanfront setting of steep cliffs, hidden coves, and secluded beaches. It is also a growing city, quickly becoming a center for technology and multinational business in northeastern China. To accommodate this growth, new communities and urban districts are being built throughout Dalian, many of which lack contextual reference to the city's unique coastal setting and are often devoid of any regional identity. Working with a partnership between a national and a local developer, Sasaki set out to create a community that would transcend the boundaries of the typical development model of gated compounds currently seen throughout the city's new districts. The Sasaki master plan for the 210-hectare site of the Hongxing Oceanfront Community embodies the spirit of the unique Dalian landscape, while creating a mixed-use district that provides an alternative to the placeless design of many other new communities throughout the city.
Consisting of three major valleys which reach from the sea back into the mountains, steep oceanfront cliffs, and a protected cove adjacent to Dalian's new development zone, the property not only is beautiful, but also offers an opportunity to create a contemporary model for a live-work community which protects and restores the site's unique ecological systems. The dramatic natural qualities of the site provided the inspiration for the master plan, which began by considering existing open space systems and identifying ecological connections to create important links between various landscape communities. Learning from the traditions of existing coastal villages around Dalian, development was located on south-facing slopes. This move maximizes solar orientation to help reduce energy consumption, while also protecting north-facing slopes from development. Sasaki's plan minimizer impact to the topography and maximizes views to the water by terracing low- and medium-density residential units on the hillside. Northern slopes, which are primarily existing coniferous forests, provide year-round habitat for a variety of native plants and wildlife. This conservation preserves the unique ecological setting, contributes to the health of the watershed, and ensures pristine views uninterrupted by development. At the valley floor, the riparian corridors leading to the sea are restored, creating a system of neighborhood parks which are used both for community recreation and treatment of stormwater runoff.
The flat lands on the northern part of the site are located in a protected cove adjacent to existing high density developments. Concentrating additional density in this area allows for more residents to take advantage of nearby public transit, while also creating a distinct sense of place on the waterfront. Lined with retail, restaurants, hotels, and other public facilities, the cove waterfront will be a vibrant downtown with an active street life. Its generous system of waterfront promenades, public parks, and plazas creates a venue for outdoor celebrations, festivals, and other gatherings. Iconic cultural buildings such as a museum, theater, and environmental learning center are strategically located along the waterfront promenade.