New marinas are built every day around the globe, but only a few draw attention as architectural wonders like the innovative complex at Keppel Cove in Zhongshan, China. The spectacular 538,000-square-foot project is comprised of a massive service building, luxury residential villas, and a sprawling infrastructure including a stunning bridge, an integrated road and highway system, surrounding external dykes, and a CIQP (Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, and Port Clearance) building. With direct access to the Xi River, Keppel Cove Marina is the first and only marina in China with a private immigration port.

Exterior of the Keppel Cove marina by day

In addition to its impressive collection of amenities and services, the UNStudio-designed marina also functions as a work of art. From its alluring bronze exterior to its unique funnel system and meticulously conceived framed views, this is truly a site you’ll never forget.

First Impressions of the Marina

Exterior of the Keppel Cove marina by day

As you approach the clubhouse, the feeling of boarding an opulent yacht envelops you. The bronze tones of its aluminum panels glint in the sunlight before fading into shimmering highlights that accent the gentle lines of the architecture. The resulting atmosphere is both tranquil and stimulating.

The waterfront facade is glazed and comprised of balconies, glass fins, and shiny panels that reflect light as well as the smooth surface of the water.

The trip from the main entrance over the bridge is accompanied by images of water, boats, decks, and stunning horizons.

One of the Keppel Cove Marina's resident balconies

The landscape that borders the building has various plateaus that provide clear views of the Xi and the rolling Shenwan countryside. Smart architectural planning protects the privacy of residents from curious visitors.

As you delve deeper into the interior, the space starts to spread out in a natural flow of fan shapes that appear to emanate from the bridge. This creates an environment that feels alive, accents the marina views, and subtly guides visitors to various destinations.

Fantastic Funnels and Voluminous Views

One of the Keppel Cove Marina's luxurious indoor spaces

Staircases wind through the buildings, forming open “funnels” that make exploration inviting and simple. The smooth lines create the illusion of seamless transitions between the body of each building and the surrounding water. Spaces are separate and defined more by activity than rigid walls or dividers, making all the interior rooms feel connected despite their being dedicated to different tasks.

A big skylight lets natural illumination from the east and west create a welcoming atmosphere full of ever-changing shadows and lights. The marina’s rich wood paneling pays homage to the luxurious ambiance of the yachts moored just outside.

The Keppel Cove Marina lit up at night

These ingenious funnel spaces guarantee clear views wherever you are in the complex. Gaze in one direction to savor the picturesque lines of the yachts aglow in the harbor. Look another way and marvel at the hills and valleys just northeast of the complex. No matter which way you turn, there’s something incredible to see. These funnels also create an idyllic natural breeze that keeps the whole place at a comfortable temperature during warmer seasons.

UNStudio co-founder Ben van Berkel explains: “The way the wind is guided through the building in order to cool down the interior is also metaphorically articulated in the design. Within the internal wind funnels, it is almost as though you can see the wind swirling around within the architecture that surrounds you.”