Aerial view of Lingnan Tiandi. (©Shui on Land)

Type: Commercial: leisure/entertainment
Uses: Retail, food and beverage, cultural, entertainment, conservation zone, art, open space
Developer: Shui On Land
Designers: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; Ben Wood Studio Shanghai
Size: 13.8 acres (5.6 ha)
Date acquired: December 2007
Date started: October 2008
Date opened: November 2012 (phase I)

Land uses:

  • Buildings: 101,230 square feet (30,855 sq m)
  • Street/parking: 61,614 square feet (18,780 sq m)
  • Open space: 21,073 square feet (6,423 sq m)
  • Total: 183,917 square feet (56,058 sq m)

Located in Foshan, Guangdong, China, Lingnan Tiandi (LNTD) Lot 1 is the largest city-core historic preservation project in China. Lot 1 is a 13.8-acre (5.6 ha) project at the center of a larger 128-acre (52 ha) development that has revitalized the historic Chancheng District.

Historic preservation was a priority in the redevelopment of this area. The developers retained the twisting streets and alleyways, preserved eight buildings on historic lists, and saved 40 others through adaptive use. What has made the historic preservation of this neighborhood so successful is that the neighborhood is not treated like a museum but perpetuates its history through new and creative uses.

Modern technologies were incorporated into the historic site through measures such as insulating preserved roofing tiles and collecting rainwater for irrigation. The development has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold in multiple categories, along with other recognitions for energy efficiency and low carbon emissions.

The district is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in southern China, attracting 12.5 million visitors in 2018. Part of what has made it so popular is the incorporation of local culture into the everyday life of the project. The retail tenants have been carefully curated to reinvigorate Lingnan culture by bringing back local businesses from overseas, and the neighborhood hosts over 100 cultural events each year.

LNTD Lot 1 is financially successful in addition to being popular, fetching rents 50 to 100 percent higher than those in the surrounding area, earning the highest retail revenue per square meter in the city. The development of LNTD Lot 1 serves as a model for historic preservation and adaptive use in China and proves that investment and careful curation can reinvigorate a dormant culture.

Aerial view at night. (©Shui on Land)

This article is one of 11 highlighting this year’s winners of the ULI Global Awards for Excellence.