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Diller Scofidio + Renfro pips Fosters to post in Chinese ‘eco-island’ contest

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Foster + Partners has come second to Diller Scofidio + Renfro in the contest to design an eco-friendly tourist destination on an artificial island in Haikou Bay in Hainan, China

Ten practices from around the globe competed to masterplan the 250ha South Sea Pearl eco-Island, which project-backer and island owner Hainan Airlines Group wants to turn into a ‘holiday paradise’, with hotels, apartments, theme parks and docks for two cruise ships.

Teams were asked to develop a strategic vision for the island – currently under construction off the coast of Holiday Beach – which aims to ‘achieve a new urban development based on ecological principles, the best available technologies and an excellent design, creating in this way a landmark for the new urbanism in China’.

The jury described the US practice’s winning scheme as a ‘beautiful, iconic form rising naturally out the landscape, recalling the volcanic caldera of the area’. The judges praised the way the designs concentrated the resort, shops and housing in one area of the island, leaving the rest for ‘aquaculture and agriculture, recreation, resort living and cultural facilities’. 

Foster + Partners’ second-placed scheme was lauded by the jury for the ‘attention paid to innovative technologies that would allow for intense agriculture and promised a development that could make extremely efficient use of resources’. 


1st: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Foster + Partners
Morphosis Architects

The contest was run by Vicente Guallart, the one-time chief architect of Barcelona and director of Guallart Architects on behalf of the China Building Center. The firm developed the strategic planning for the scheme, drew up the competition brief and helped select the jury which included Aaron Betsky from America, Benedetta Tagliabue of EMBT and Moscow’s chief architect, Sergey Kuznetsov.

Construction work is expected to start on the project next year and is scheduled to complete in 2027.

Shortlist in full

Nanhai pearl artificial island in may 2016 anna frodesiak big

Nanhai Pearl artificial island in may 2016 anna frodesiak big

Project backers

Host: Haikou Municipality
Organiser: HNA Infrastructure
Coordinator: HNA Design China Building Centre


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