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Oct Harbour Clubhouse

Richard Meier & Partners Architects

Oct Harbour Clubhouse
By Michael Webb -

Like the tailors of London’s Savile Row, Richard Meier uses the finest materials, impeccably cut and detailed, and his buildings, like their suits, project an air of quiet authority and understated luxury. Nowhere is that effortless assurance more evident than in the OCT Harbour Clubhouse. In Shenzhen, a booming hub of capitalism, every scrap of land is ripe for development, and the authorities drained an expanse of wetlands to create a complex of upscale housing and commerce around an artificial lake. The clubhouse Meier had designed for a group of villas now under construction was relocated to a man-made island in the lake, where it would enjoy greater prominence and serve a broader range of residents and VIPs. The move and a more ambitious program mandated a new design. Meier sketched an angular fitness center flanking an arc of private dining rooms, restaurants and bars. A bridge, elevated to allow small boats to pass beneath, extends from the mainland to a mid-level entry plaza. Windowless facades conceal the interiors as you approach, turning the complex into a shimmering white mirage. Lofty skylit concourses link the different levels and lead you into the gym and spa to one side, and to dining areas that open up to the south-east and sweeping views across the lake. Wide expanses of glass are shaded by vertical baffles, and the curved facade has a wedge-shaped cut at the center. Steps lead down to the pools, gardens and a screening room at water-level, and up to a second tier of meeting and dining rooms. From the further bank, the clubhouse resembles a moored cruise-ship, especially at night, when it is dramatically illuminated. Meier has larger projects under construction in China - notably the “eight-star” Tianjin Hotel (The Plan, 048) - but the clubhouse was the first to be completed, and it’s a significant achievement. “I’m convinced you can build anything in China,” says project architect Jerome Engelking. “They have the...

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