Pelli Clarke & Partners Wins International Design Competition for Yibin High-Speed Rail Hub

1 April 2022
Aerial rendering of the winning design of the Yibin High Speed Rail Hub by Pelli Clarke and Partners.

Pelli Clarke & Partners, in collaboration with Sichuan Provincial Architectural Design and Research Institute (SADI), has won an international design competition for the comprehensive master plan of the new Yibin Station Gateway Development. Other competitors in the competition included the joint design team of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and Tongji Architectural Design (TJAD), and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).

“We are honored and excited to be working with Yibin City to realize their vision for the future” stated Partner David Chen of Pelli Clarke & Partners.

Yibin is located in the southeastern region of Sichuan Province in China where the Jingsha and Min rivers come together to form the Yangtze Rivers. Whereas the Yangtze and Yellow River were the lifelines in China’s development historically, the vast network of high-speed rail has replaced these waterways in China today. Two new high speed rail lines are planned to intersect in Yibin. With this development, the city will become the crossroad between four major urban centers in Western China and a highly important transportation hub in the region.

Drawing from practical experience with many well-known transit-oriented-development projects in the U.S. and internationally, the winning scheme by Pelli Clarke & Partners was the result of multiple rounds of in-depth analysis into the unique physical context, economic circumstances, and development history of Yibin City. The inspiration came from two unique aspects in Yibin’s environs. The theme of the design entitled “Bamboo Ode” referred to the well-known bamboo forest nearby, and echoes the virtues of interconnectivity, resilience and adaptability associated with the bamboo plant and its rhizomatic root system. In addition, the central park design aims to preserve and integrate Yibin's unique topographic structure, the spectacular, world-class karst landforms created by the Yangtze River tributaries. By these considerations, the master plan design is uniquely conceived and seamlessly tailored to Yibin’s past, present and future.

The design studies included the overall area adjacent to each high-speed rail station and their respective neighborhoods to ensure an integrated approach of mutual support and connectivity. This included a diversity of programming functions, interconnected network of open green spaces with easy access and transportation links to create a unified sense of place in the larger zone between the two stations.

The design brief called for the master plan design that would transform Yibin from a pass-through station to a destination city. The central showcase of the development is a fully integrated, multi-layered green park with a collection of multi-functional pavilions. Conforming to the karst topography, a central park creates an undulating landform integrating flexible workplaces within an ecologically sustainable environment. At the same time, the park provides a restful and playful environment for local residents and tourists. The architectural focus of the central park is a cultural museum, designed to showcase Yibin's long history and rich heritage of ancient poetry.

Traditionally, a major civic plaza occupies the space in front of the train station in dense urban cities. In the case of Yibin Station, which is located away from the city center, the concept is to create the density and intensity of a vital urban context. The analysis of long-term economic viability of transit-based developments, a certain level of economic activity, and urban density is the critical factor. A state-of-the-art shopping center becomes the necessary seed for sustainable economic growth, and the best program to serve the visitors arriving through high-speed-rail as well as the daily needs of the growing neighborhood. In addition, the access and flow of visitors from the train station to the development by way of the shopping complex is greatly enhanced with a re-design of the traffic flow around the station. Arriving passengers can easily access and enjoy the new development without any traffic barriers, making this a truly desirable destination.

Other planned functions adjacent to the new train station are hotel and serviced apartments that provide support and needed amenities in the newly formed urban center. Extending from the hotel to the south, the residential towers with green facade design complements the central core area with necessary living accommodations for the anticipated growth of population and enhanced sense of recognition of the place with long-term residents.

The tower blocks around the central park exhibit the unique design based on Yibin's bamboo forests. Arriving at the station, visitors will see towers framing the central park with the government center in the distance to covey the profound experience of Yibin's "bamboo culture" at the moment of arrival. Functionally, the office and residential towers fulfill the anticipated demands of established and newly formed companies in emerging industries to participate in the establishment of this new center for Yibin.

The In-Depth Urban Design of the Gateway Area of The Yibin High-Speed Railway Hub, jointly designed by Pelli Clarke & Partners and SADI, explores the multiple dimensions of the sustainable urban development plan by adapting innovative solutions to complex local conditions, pays respect to local culture, and skillfully integrates the unique geographical context. The design is future-forward, contributing to the development of Yibin and ushering in a new chapter in urban design approach. The fully integrated design interprets the bright future of Yibin as a next generation science and innovation city and a popular urban destination.