Hainan, China's largest tropical island, is undergoing tremendous changes that are reshaping its future. Unprecedented growth has attracted millions of tourists and new residents, transforming the island's economy. This pace of growth, however, is not without challenges. New resorts and planned communities emerge along the coastline in the blink of an eye, and ignore sensitive ecological settings and the rich history and culture of the island. Valuable natural assets are often replaced by manufactured landscapes that are neither sustainable nor celebrate the island's unique identity. On the northern coast of Hainan, however, Sasaki's master plan for a new resort community breaks the mold of the island's less sensitive development patterns and placeless, themed architecture. The 116-hectare Fuyuan West Resort District incorporates a contemporary interpretation of some of the island's historic urban streets and squares, and integrates these iconic spaces into a landscape that restores damaged dune systems and a nearly lost mangrove estuary.
Situated on a narrow peninsula with the ocean on the north and a saltwater bay to the south, the Fuyuan West site offers panoramic waterfront views and a diverse ecosystem. Named after the adjacent historic town of Fuyuan, literally translating as "the origin of happiness," the environmental setting of the site is enriched by its unique cultural context. The nearby metropolis of Haikou also offers inspiration from its 19th century colonial settlement in the Qilou district. Here, the dense urban pattern creates shaded urban streets and squares, while arcades of colonial-era buildings shade pedestrians from the tropical heat. Elements from these and other regional influences are interpreted and integrated into the design for the Fuyuan West Resort.
The master plan pays special attention to the ecology, geology, hydrology, and climate of the site, and design principles are derived from these site-specific conditions. The first principle emphasizes the site's two distinctive waterfronts on the ocean and the bay. Public access to these waterfronts is a priority, with the quieter bay side offering a series of waterfront parks and the ocean providing beach-oriented recreational opportunities. Cross-peninsula connections emphasize the link between interior development areas and the water. The second principle focuses on creating hierarchy in the development. Density is concentrated around a mixed-use town center inspired by Haikou's historic Qilou District. Lower density residential and resort uses such as hotels and spas radiate from this heart of activity. This also relates to the third principle of creating a pedestrian-focused community. All neighborhoods are a 5–10 minute walk from the waterfront or the town center. Finally, the fourth principle considers the development's sustainability. Open space, building orientation, and larger landscape systems take advantage of cooling ocean breezes to provide natural ventilation and reduce energy demands. Environmentally, restoration of the oceanfront dune system and the bayside mangrove estuary increases species biodiversity and adds resilience against climate change.