SOM completes “breathable” bank headquarters in shenzhen, china

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Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank Headquarters opens

skidmore, dues & merrill (SOM) completed a 158-meter-high bank siege at shenzhen. located on the edge of a public park in one of the city’s main business districts, the 33-story tower features a number of strategies that respond to the tropical climate, including an external box spring to reduce solar gain and functional louvers to provide fresh air.

SOM was first commissioned to design the headquarters of the Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank in 2012. The international company’s work on the project included architecture, mechanics, electrical and plumbing, structural engineering and civil. the tower is LEED Platinum certified and is aiming for China Green Star certification.

images © seth powers

the distinctive box spring

the facade of the tower is defined by an external base, which serves both as the structure of the building and as an important element of solar protection. at its base, the box spring widens to create framed openings and views of the surrounding park and the South China Sea, just steps from the building.

“We are always exploring the possibilities of synthesizing inventive engineering solutions with architectural design”, explains scott duncan, SOM design partner. “The rural commercial bank headquarters gave us the ability to incorporate a diagrid — similar to an exoskeleton — that pulls the structure outward and effectively hangs the tower inside to create column-free workspaces. “

SOM completes “breathable” bank headquarters in shenzhen, china
the hall includes a 15 meter high “rain curtain”

land, water and air

the architects looked at three essential elements – land, water and air – to design features inside the building. the lobby emphasizes water, also drawing on feng shui, in which water and wealth are intrinsically linked. a 15-meter-high “rain curtain” lines the glass walls; water droplets cascade down small translucent filaments, providing visual feature as well as evaporative cooling effect on hot summer days. the lobby also has a reflective pool, droplet-inspired lighting, and smooth marble walls that evoke the effect of water on stone.

gray granite paving and seating, along with rows of trees and plant cover define the main entrance spaces and small gardens at the base of the tower. this tactile ground level experience makes transitions and becomes more atmospheric as one progresses through the tower to the open floor plans and the “floating” diagrid above. at the top of the tower, functional walls and an outdoor terrace blur the distinctions between indoor and outdoor spaces.

SOM completes “breathable” bank headquarters in shenzhen, china
the lobby also has lighting inspired by water droplets

two vertical atria span the height of the tower. on each floor, employees can use louvers to open and close the vents, accessing fresh air from the atria. This allows the building to “breathe” when the climate in Shenzhen is pleasant, filling the entire building with fresh air so that tenants can enjoy the same air inside and out. By functioning as respiratory tracts in a body and by circulating fresh air throughout the building, these features generate significant savings in terms of environmental and energy efficiency while promoting the comfort and well-being of tenants.

interior spaces are defined by a minimal glass perimeter wall and a daylight-sensitive shading system. a communicating staircase extends to the full height of the tower, promoting connectivity and collaboration between colleagues.

SOM completes “breathable” bank headquarters in shenzhen, china
view down one of the vertical atria

SOM completes “breathable” bank headquarters in shenzhen, china
the tower is articulated by an external base

SOM completes “breathable” bank headquarters in shenzhen, china
close-up of the structure of the box spring

SOM completes “breathable” bank headquarters in shenzhen, china
the new head office of the bank is located at the edge of a public park

project information:

Last name: shenzhen rural commercial bank headquarters

site: Shenzhen, china

architect: skidmore, dues & merrill (SOM)

photography: seth powers

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