Unconventional Architecture for Shenzhen’s Skyscrapers

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
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Shenzhen Stock Exchange Headquarters
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OMA has completed the anticipated Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE) headquarters in a design that explores a new typology of office buildings for the city.

The SZSE building is a 256-metre mixed-use skyscraper nicknamed the “mini-skirt.” It defies conventional design with its “tower-on-podium” style and is located by the Pearl River.

The building’s three-storey base is cantilevered 26 metres above the ground and contains a lush roof garden along with housing the stock exchange’s listing hall.

Podium close up

Podium close up

The podium conveniently covers an area dedicated to public space, which has been designed to engage the city. The building’s prominent placement also allows it to “broadcast” the activities of the stock market to the city of Shenzhen.

Internationally renowned architecture firm OMA won a competition to develop the project in 2006 and the SZSE marks the second major project for the firm in China following the famous architecture of the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing.

Recessed Windows

Recessed windows

The CCTV building is also a skyscraper, standing 234 metres tall but a little more complex than your traditional skyscraper. It features six horizontal and vertical sections that fold over and an open centre.

Similar to the unusual design of the CCTV building, OMA wanted to help usher in a new generation of office towers in Shenzhen with SZSE.

CCTV Building

CCTV Building

Construction on SZSE began in 2008 and made use of the expertise of more than 75 architects from start to completion. OMA partners Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten led the project with a collaboration that included Michael Kokora, Ellen van Loon and Shohei Shigematsu.

“The Shenzhen Stock Exchange embodies the Pearl River Delta’s phenomenal transformation over the past thirty years,” explained Koolhaas. “We are greatly excited about the building from an architectural standpoint, but I believe its true significance emerges when viewed in an economic, political and ultimately social context.”

The SZSE building offers sustainable features, including an energy efficient façade. It is one of the first 3 Star Green rated Buildings in China. While SZSE features an unusually placed podium, the aesthetic of the building is quite traditional: tall, grey, rectangular and with a repetitive grid pattern of windows.

Essence Financial Building

Essence Financial Building

The building’s windows are its most prominent green feature, as they are recessed to both function as viewpoints for the buildings inhabitants and provide shade for SZSE’s interiors. The building envelope works to conveniently regulate sunlight, minimising solar heat gain in the warmer months, absorbing it in the cooler months and reducing energy use.

In terms of space, SZSE will be a multi-use building with the lower part of the tower reserved for executive offices with the top half to serve as home to retail outlets, restaurants and conference centres.

SZSE will soon be joined in Shezhen’s skyline by the new Essence Financial Building, also led by OMA and located in Shenzhen’s CBD. The design of this 180-metre building will see the tower’s core shifted to one side creating a “simple extrusion” in the structure.

“The common practice of simple extrusion produces undifferentiated massings and the ubiquitous curtain wall adds to the homogeneity, detaching the typical tower from context, program and climate,” explained OMA.

Both buildings are said to be designed in line with Shenzhen’s climate and 21st century landscape, which does not reflect traditional office building design, instead creating a new paradigm that will grow with a contemporary China.

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