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A new take on mixed-use development: the third place

Above: CGI from Foster + Partners of InnHub La Punt, Engadin Valley, Switzerland

Foster + Partners have been developing two particularly stand-out mixed-use developments, one in Switzerland and the other in London.

InnHub La Punt is a new centre for innovation in the heart of the Engadin valley that aims to bring new visitors together with the local community to increase prosperity, create new jobs, and revitalise local crafts and produce. It is based on the idea of the ‘third place’ – away from the workplace and home – to create a space for collaboration and creativity. The 6,000-square-metre project will comprise work and seminar spaces, sports facilities, retail shops, a restaurant as well as an underground car park. The project will act as a catalyst for transformation by bringing innovative people and ideas to the valley.

Located on a prominent site at the entrance to the village, Foster + Partners says the project offers locals, tourists, technology companies, start-ups and universities a place to exchange ideas. The design is inspired by the landscape and the local architecture with a protective wall that envelopes the site, blocking the cold winds and enabling pockets of shelter and enhanced microclimate. This wall acts as a contemporary interpretation of the thick, insulating walls and deep windows of the Engadin valley where smaller openings are introduced to minimise heat loss. The roof has been carefully designed to combine renewable energy generation systems, arranged on angled surfaces to avoid snow accumulation, while allowing daylight to enter the deepest parts of the building. These energy efficient systems together with the photovoltaic panels generate a third of the building’s total energy demand.

Shops and public functions are located along the main street, while the more private functions face the surrounding landscape, pulling greenery into the site through the courtyard. A public route through the site draws life into the meeting and collaboration spaces, allowing people to glimpse the energy and vitality of the community hub.

The entire low-rise ensemble has a contoured roofscape with roof lights that bring natural light into the interior spaces. At the heart is the ‘village square’ – an amphitheatre, a gathering space which will become the social focal point of La Punt. The building is made of local materials and covered in larch shingles. On top of the theatre, will be a distinctive rooftop café and terrace, set beautifully against the backdrop of the valley.

In the London, located on Marsh Wall on the Isle of Dogs, Foster + Partners states that South Quay Plaza plays a pivotal role in revitalising the historic docklands around Canary Wharf. The mixed-use scheme consists of two buildings, a tall residential tower addressing Canary Wharf and a smaller development to the south relating to the streetscape of Marsh Wall with retail spaces and a major new public plaza. Prior to this redevelopment, it says that the site was hostile and heavily built-up, creating a visual and physical barrier between Canary Wharf and areas south of Marsh Wall. The restricted access and lack of public space was preventing the regeneration of the wider neighbourhood. The vision for the project was to unlock and transform the neighbourhood by opening up an unprecedented sixty percent of the site to public use, introducing over 1.5 acres of generously landscaped and accessible public open space, and creating new pedestrian routes to connect the residential areas of Millwall and Cubitt Town with Canary Wharf. The towers are orientated specifically to increase visual connections and public access to the dockside, whilst maximising dual aspect views and daylight for the residential units. Together with the new landscaping, this opens up and celebrates the waterfront, creating a new activated and animated space that will be enjoyed by workers and residents alike. The sustainable residential towers provide the area with much needed mixed tenure housing, offering exceptional new homes in close proximity to public transport, open space and the vibrancy of Canary Wharf. The towers include new ground floor retail as well as a wide range of residential amenities, which include a double height pool, fitness centre and spa, along with community and children’s spaces. There is also a residents’ lounge and garden on the 56th floor, which features the highest bar in London, offering unique views of the docklands and the city beyond.


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