The sites are located within a key transitional zone between the shenzhen north railway station and key business districts to the east. Regional high speed rail, local rail, intercity rail and international checkpoints are to eventually be incorporated within the station. Such intensity of use will tremendously benefit the proposed office, service apartment, hotel and retail uses if utilized properly.
After examining both the existing and proposed conditions, it quickly became clear that in order to maximize the success of this project, both sites would need to be designed to provide a level of cross-connectivity through the east plaza that would not be overshadowed by the strong axial relationship that the park, the east plaza, and the north station have already established. The sites must work to dissipate and diffuse that intensity across the site in order to capture the energy of the surrounding context.
Layering + emerging From an urban planning perspective the ne-sw axis becomes the gateway, which is naturally created by the towers zoning requirements and their spatial relationship to both the station and the park across from mintang street.
The physical difference in the plots geometry, not only between them but also in relationship to the station’s axis, provides an asymmetry within the composition that translates into a unique architectural vocabulary for each site. The gateway provides the urban framework, but each complex must have its own image.
A strong physical and visual connection is created by linking the two sites and the central plaza along mintang street. Each lot’s elevated platforms have their own character, landscape elements and scale, creating a seamless flow across the entire block. This is critical in developing a vital and energetic community.
In terms of design focus, the open space is as important as the buildings; due to their grand and diverse scales, both play an important role in creating a sense of place and becoming a landmark.
The procession from the street up to the plaza is a unique experience for each lot. Lot c2 is cartesian. Lot d2 is organic. In difference to the current space under the plaza which contains back of the house functions, our proposed design for each lot under their respective platforms is driven by creating a sense of community, a place of trade, leisure and interest.
Layering: lot c2 is composed of linear blocks of retail that define paths and plazas, walkways and atriums. It links the space both vertically and horizontally while forming an unpredictable grid as they stack. The spatial richness and innovative attitude is unparalleled to any traditional retail complex. New spaces emerge within the intersections and the possibilities of creating a dynamic environment are endless.
The architecture of the towers in lot c2 is about continues the layering concept. Both towers are based on stressing the horizontal character of the composition. They are clearly defined by stacking volumes with unique characteristics in terms of layout and enclosure, the idea is to create a vertical neighborhood that gives both the tower and its different parts a unique expression that responds to views, scale, materiality, and orientation. Atriums neutralize the rich character of the façade grids. They give each block a unique face and bring daylight and interconnectivity within each one of the stacking volumes.
Emerging: lot d2 provides a retail experience that is characterized by the strong horizontal character of the platforms. These planes are punched and contain the three retail pavilions and the two towers. The pavilions are interconnected horizontally through the platforms and vertically with their own internal circulation. The circular openings that surround the buildings link the ground with the entire platform, both physically and visually. They act as monumental light wells that not only bring daylight to the ground but also permeate human activity.
In contrast to lot c2, the architecture of the towers in lot d2 is about stressing their vertical character. The facades have a strong vertical and linear expression, they represent roots that connect the ground and the sky, very much like trees in which the solid part (the root-the branch) provides shade and privacy while the open (the sky through leafs and branches) provide daylight and views.
This project represents a remarkable opportunity to become the generator of a new urban tissue that will have a profound impact in the future of the area. In a project of this scale, it is important that ecology and sustainability become part of the design agenda; therefore we are proposing the following strategies:
Within plot d2, in order to strengthen the connection to lot c2, a large open and public platform is extended from the east plaza. This platform serves as the inflection point between ground and sky. Below the platform connections are made horizontally. Above the platform, we connect vertically. The program is broken into five volumes; the west tower, the east tower, the atrium retail building and the bridge retail buildings. It is then unified by these distinct platforms; an open and public plaza and a covered internal connection.
The west tower is the site’s programmatic and visual anchor. Rising 250m, it is broken down into retail at the base, office in the mid portion and a 5 star hotel at the top. There are 65,473m2 of office divided among large and efficient floor plates, oriented to maximize south, east, and west exposure. At the hotel levels, the towers square footprint becomes an l shape, creating a large atrium which will support various hotel amenities and create an identity for the 47,649m2 hotel along mingtang and liuxian streets. The l shaped floor plate also allows hotel rooms to be consolidated along the south facing façade.
The east tower is set at the intersection of mingtang and liuxian street. The 100m tall tower provides 30,727m2 of service apartments in an efficient floor plate. At the buildings upper levels, an atrium is created providing the building a face along the street, and instilling a unique amenity for the upper level units.
The retail is broken into 3 volumes; however, the two pavilions along liuxian avenue can operate in tandem with a series of connecting bridges above the +13.0 platform level. Each retail pavilion has its own means of circulation, allowing each pavilion to be truly independent, enhancing an already unique retail experience. In a typical retail setting, central circulation spaces become the organizational focus of the complex. We have reversed that, making the retail the central organizing force; it is a unique solution suited for the site.
The towers and retail pavilions are unified by a dramatic platform connecting the train station’s east plaza to the site. This platform will establish lot d as a primary point along the northwest/southwest axis instead of a secondary point along the already established northeast/southwwest axis. Directly below the +13.0m platform at +6.15m, a secondary connection is made to the train station and retail functions.
The towers facades react directly to the demands of shenzhen’s environment and the program’s uses. Utilizing the orientation of both towers to maximize south, west and east exposure, folds in the façade are created to vary each façade panel’s specific orientation. The variation between a south west facing unit and a south east facing unit for instance creates the opportunity to fine tune how each unit expresses solid and void. This treatment of the façade can then respond directly to the differing requirements of retail, office, hotel and service apartments as well as environmental conditions while providing a uniform aesthetic and texture.
The retail facades address the conflict between individual brand identity and the complex’s architectural identity by creating a consistent facade which is articulated with glass and another material. One pavilion is wood, one is stone, and one is metal. Each pavilion’s glass facades will allow for the display of individual brand graphics. In this way, individual brand identity is emphasized through its graphic display, individual pavilions identity is emphasized through its materiality, and the complex’s identity is emphasized through the articulation of these facades.
Lot d2 landscape plan creates three different expressions of a single concept which provides a counterpoint to the curvilinear platform. The ground floor is broken up into large diamond shaped pieces of green, glossy finished concrete and luminous floor panels. The large scale of each landscape piece relates to the scale of each program volume coming to the ground. The light panels create a luminous space which will draw users in, urging them towards the retail and program lobbies. The intermediate +6.15m level revisits the angularity of the ground floor, but creates more direct connection paths between each function. At the +13m plaza, the ground floor pattern is replicated but at a much smaller scale. Backlit panels, various glossy concrete colors, green pavers and plantings create a multitude of individual spaces within the grand space. Plantings are concentrated around the periphery to create a loose sense of enclosure as well as a variety of semi-private spaces. The shift in scale reinforces the idea that the platform is a place to linger and interact.
Planning The urban connectivity of site c2 is achieved in a much different way than site d2. C2 is expressed as a composition of opposing stacked volumes. The relatioships that are created through this design concept provide a spatial experience that is connected through more linear and layered movement. The volumetric organization of the retail base provides a porosity that captures the pedestrian movement along all four sides of the site. Once inside, the connectivity between the levels is provided as users interact with the shifted volumes above, creating a captivating and unique retail experience.
The complexity of the volumetric composition allows for all three levels and 19,692 square meters of retail program to be presented to user in a more human scale. The void between the retail programs provides a perect opportunity for small roof terraces, gardens, and places of solitude to exist within such a bustling environment. To further unify the 18 meter tall retail base, all retail volumes are contained within a continuous roof structure that turns down the face of the east and west façade to become a protective screen for the roof terraces on the third level.
The towers only continue the striated nature of the podium. Each tower is composed of shifting 50 meter volumes, breaking the preconceived notion of a vertical tower by providing a series of commercial office neighborhoods. Each contained volume consists of a shared community floor and conference area that is vertically connected to the office floors above through an open atrium.
The 200 meter tall north tower provides 87,881 square meters of office program. As the entire height of the tower is broken down into four different distinct layers, each volume shifts its atrium to a different coordinant to provide the complex with a face from every viewpoint.
The 100 meter tall south tower is more modest in scale, but it mirrors the exact logic of the north tower. The 34,960 square meters of office area caps off the total 122,841 square meters of office program within the c2 site.
Following the language of the 4 stacked volumes, each office block has its own unique facade that express the ability for the quality of the interior space to be truly responsive to the different types of office environments that would be inside. This concept is what inspires the potential for the building to work more as a community.
Though the volumes shift and facades change, the design of the building systems and structure have been optimized to provide for a very typical core and column layout. The cartisian arrangement of the vertical circulation elements and mechanical shafts provide the ability to tye all of the structure together with a series of diagonals along the outside edge of the core. This provides the ability for the tower to maintain its structural rigidity while allowing for the varying orientation of the atriums.
The landscape is holistic as it provides a continuous and regular carpet across the entire site. The necessary points of entry into the site determine the placement of the green areas within the site. In the same way that the juxtaposition between the mass and void within the retail provides an opportunity for unique spaces, the continuous grid also allows for the varied placement of unique and varied human-scale landscape elements throughout the site. Through the assembly of many related pieces, the site becomes one stated image.