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The Mountainside Gateway to Nature in Qingdao – Atour Street

  • Client Sunac Qingdao
  • Year 2021
  • Photography Lu Bing

Atour Street

Nestled within a mountain range northwest of Qingdao, the Tour of Life is a launchpad for the exploration of nature. Sitting on the former site of a derelict commercial complex, the project acts as a restorative natural destination for people wanting to explore the surrounding mountains, river and lake. Comprising a commercial avenue and striking events space, surrounded by a thriving natural landscape, the Tour of Life is a place where people can come together and traverse an elegant sequence of outdoor spaces that each connect the visitor with nature in a unique and particular way.
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Visitors arrive at a 400-metre commercial and lifestyle street, which wends its way through the mountain valley. The ground plane negotiates a number of complex level changes, threading together retail tenancies with an accessible and highly connective outdoor treatment. Most spaces are approachable from various directions, making for a more complex pedestrian experience than a linear shopping street might offer.
Care was taken to ensure that restaurants and cafes can extend their seating out into the streets, ensuring activation throughout the day and into the evenings. By creating a variety of distinct outdoor spaces, the visitor is reminded of the intimate scale of the area’s traditional streets, with sight lines out to the mountains and forests a constant reminder of the natural setting.
This corridor terminates at a major outdoor gathering & event place and exhibition park, which is the mountainside gateway to nature. Intended to host major events and home to several striking events buildings, the open space is animated by water features and trees that appear to erupt from the paving. Held in place by banks of vibrant native planting,
The plaza manages the visitor’s experience by acting as a jumping-off point for the destinations and experiences surrounding it.
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The project offers a wide range of opportunities for engaging with nature, from strolling through a stand of seasonally changing trees, to exploring a hedge maze, to soaring above the park on a zipline.
For ASPECT Studios, the premise of the design was to root the new built elements in a robust and demurring landscape that directs attention at all times to plants and the mountain backdrop.

Stephen Buckle, Studio Director of ASPECT Studios’ Shanghai studio, said, “The main driver of our response was to use native plants and the seasonal change of colour as a primary display element throughout the shopping street and around the plaza.

“With our collaborators, we’ve managed to repurpose this derelict site into a unique, family- and community-oriented destination in the foothills of the mountains.”
Sunac Retail Qingdao 7