The Palm Island project is a series of five ‘floating islands’ situated in northern Chongqing, China, on the banks of Qing Nian Reservoir and the Palm Spring Geological Park Lake.
The ‘floating islands’ form a new hospitality precinct within the Palm Springs International Garden complex and include five restaurants and a teahouse.
The design was inspired by the geography of Chongqing, which sits at the meeting points of the mighty Yangtze and Jialing rivers and the site conceptually and visually connects the reservoir and the lake.
Water is the key design element, and combined with careful consideration of light, creates ever-changing reflections. Patrons at each restaurant enjoy views of natural water vistas on one side and a private ‘water courtyard’ on the other, integrated visually through the creation of an infinity pool-style water platform. This gives the architectural impression that the buildings are floating on water when viewed from afar.
The elevated water platforms conceal the operational aspects of the restaurants such as parking, loading areas and kitchens. This allows the public aspects of these dining zones to be revealed above the waterline so that patrons are able to fully appreciate the water views in all directions. These platforms also allow flow-through ventilation and plenty of natural light to pour into the restaurants.
Although the architecture is ‘frozen in time’, there are several aspects that create sequential experiences. The curved forms of the building and crystal-like glass structure produce continuously changing reflections. Strong wave patterns appear in the facade, which is made from an aluminum screen featuring white vertical rods of varying thickness. Together, the curved forms and the facade alter the visual density depending on the viewer’s perspective.
The rigid but fluid patterns of the white rods are viewed through reflections from the water, with the movement of the water ‘vibrating’ the straight lines. During the day, the sunlit rods are highlighted against the dark tiles under the water, evoking a musical quality, and in the evening the effect is further enhanced by artificial lighting to create a dreamlike quality.