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The Science Town Project

Spark Architects’ contemporary interpretation of Shanghai’s Xintiandi urban village takes form in east Guangzhou’s Science Town District.

The Science Town Project


February 20th, 2013

Within the heart of Science Town District in eastern Guangzhou – an area master planned by the local government as a science, technology and industrial park – lies an ’urban village’ made up of a retail street, a SOHO residential development and public facilities.

Spark Architects describes this project for developer Vanke Guangzhou as a contemporary interpretation of Shanghai’s Xintiandi – a vibrant and popular car-free shopping, eating and entertainment district and urban renewal development consisting of restored traditional stone gate houses.


In Spark Architects’ ’urban village’ the retail street is composed of 2-storey shopping lots – featuring convenience stores, cafes and restaurants. These face the highway, a central alley and public square.


The streets are sensitively landscaped with outdoor alfresco dining areas and event squares set adjacent to the pedestrian routes. Varying scales and planting also define the entrances to the development and specific points of interest.


With the brief calling for “contemporary architecture infused with local cultural references”, Spark Architects made visits with the client to villages located on the outskirts of Guangzhou to conduct research into traditional arts and heritage. These findings were eventually incorporated into the project by way of abstracted Chinese porcelain art and regional architectural motifs, and in the choice of materials and village street scales.



The street scales and landscaping within the retail zone also ensure a convivial atmosphere that is not undermined by the adjacent residential towers. Visitors meander through intimate streets and squares that are punctuated by a palette of facade materials influenced by traditional Chinese screens.

’Box’ canopies protrude from the buildings to frame views of courtyards and the landscape. The ’box’ component is also repeated on the SOHO residential development facade as colourful pop out balconies that serve as an articulated three-dimensional backdrop to the streets.


Images courtesy of Vanke Guangzhou; image above courtesy of Spark Architects

Spark Architects

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