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(Not Actually a Mansion)

BIG’s Shenzhen International Energy Mansion looks better than the renderings
Long after the golden era of corporate modernist skyscrapers (think Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, SOM’s Lever House, and so on), many contemporary office skyscrapers are still designed with traditional glass curtain walls that have low insulation and cause overheating from unnecessary direct sunlight. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) conjured an otherworldly alternative for Shenzhen International Energy Mansion: a sawtooth, zigzagging curtain wall comprising glass panels and powder-coated aluminum that blocks direct sunlight, thereby reducing solar gain by up to 30 percent. The 1-million-square-foot structure is composed of two towers and a nine-story connecting block complete with a shared cafeteria, conference rooms, and various retail shops: The uppermost 13 floors of the 42-story north tower houses the Shenzhen Energy Mansion headquarters. As a starting point, BIG considered the subtropical climate in Shenzhen, gauging how they could create comfortable working spaces in hot and humid conditions while at the same time reducing energy consumption. The solution? A passive facade. “Our proposal for Shenzhen Energy Mansion enhances the sustainable performance of the building drastically by only focusing on its envelope, the facade,” said Andreas Klok Pedersen, partner and design director at BIG. Collaborating with Transsolar, the design studio dedicated to addressing climate change, the firm employed various solutions to reduce solar-derived heat and glare without relying on machines or heavy glass coating (which would make views out seem gray and bleak). The building has achieved two out of three stars with the Chinese Green Building Evaluation Label and a LEED Gold rating. BIG and Transsolar developed a multifaceted passive program with a facade folded in an origami-like shape consisting of closed and open subsections. The closed sections provide high insulation values by blocking direct sunlight. “With solid facade panels on the southeast and southwest side for shading, the glazed facade facing northwest and northeast is able to achieve high sustainability requirements with more clarity and less coating,” said Pedersen. All in all, the effect enhances the environmentally sustainable performance of the building and creates an office mise-en-scène bathed in soft light reflected from the direct sunlight diffused between interior panels. Meanwhile, the double glazing applied to the low-e tempered Super Energy-Saving Insulated Glass Units (IGU) by Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass on the folded facade provides open views through the clear glass in one direction via a series of simple deformations in the geometry that allows for larger openings. These interjecting pockets of glass create cavernous folds that interrupt the smooth facade in various interior areas, including lobbies, recreational areas, and meeting areas. This seemingly precarious arrangement of views is made possible by the aluminum cladding's comprising full-height extruded panels that form a meandering profile. The setup enables the panel system to interlock smoothly, creating a uniform surface with almost seamless joints. A profile of twists and turns accentuates the reflections of light. In effect, these solid facade panels located on the southeast and southwest sides directly obstruct solar penetration. “The amount of insulation used in the curtain wall is a result of optimization between visibility and sustainability,” said Pedersen. Location: Shenzhen, China Architect: Bjarke Ingels Group Consulting Architect: SADI Shenzhen Architecture and Design Institute Contractor: CSCEC Engineer: ARUP Facade Consultants: Front, Inc. and Aurecon Facade Contractor: Fangda Group Sustainability Consultant: Transsolar Glass Manufacturer, Supplier, Glazing: Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Group Co., Ltd Windows: Aumüller Exterior Cladding Panels: Xingfa Aluminum

New Old Town

In Shenzhen-Hong Kong biennale, the urban village is the main attraction
In mid-December, during the opening weekend of the 7th Shenzhen/Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB), the three former factory buildings hosting the main exhibitions are bursting at the seams. Outside, in pockets of the Nantou Old Town, which the biennale has effectively colonized for its duration, architectural installations occupy empty lots and ground-floor shopfronts. Visitors inspect installations such as WEGO, by The Why Factory and MVRDV, a 9-meter-high architectural folly transplanted from an Eindhoven square where it debuted during last year’s Dutch Design Week, or Pingheng, Understanding Chinese Reality, a mural by Spanish collective Boa Mistura that adorns the wall of one of the main exhibition venues. The 7th UABB is curated by Meng Yan and Lu Xiaodu, both partners at architecture and urbanism office URBANUS, with offices in Shenzhen and Beijing, and by curator and critic Hou Hanru, based in San Francisco, Rome and Paris, who self-identifies as the “outsider” on the team. The biennale is divided into three main exhibitions: Global South, an exploration of countries in the global south and their “informal” urban strategies; Art Making City, a trove of contemporary art exhibits prominently featuring urban environments; and Urban Village, which puts the urban typology of the same name center stage. But, as Yan says to a packed auditorium, “The real exhibition is the vibrant city life.” Much in sync with the biennale’s theme, “Cities Grow in Difference,” the auditorium where Yan is speaking is filled with an audience that ranges from architectural experts to local inhabitants of Nantou Old Town, the majority of whom are Chinese migrant workers. For the curatorial team, the urban village is a model for the future. Against what Yan calls the “globalized, standardized, capitalized city” that has expanded to the global scale, the urban village is a hybrid, a wetland, a “breeding ground for a new city.” The biennale seeks to learn from it, and to emulate it in its search for possibilities. The location of the biennale is a case in point. One of the oldest parts of Shenzhen, Nantou is an urban village, a specific Chinese typology of low-rise housing in the center or outskirts of the city, serving mostly migrant workers and temporary dwellers. Nantou is lively, crowded, and seems to be a place where everything is possible. This central focus on the urban village generates an exhibition that, according to Yan, seeks to have a “rhythm like an old Chinese novel or opera.” In practice, this rhythm materializes in a disorienting sequence of exhibition spaces, where art installations merge with urban studies and architectural drawings and models. Sometimes, components of the urban village find their way inside the exhibition, in the display of windows or wall segments; in others, performance takes over, mimicking the rhythms of urban public space, with an extensive array of video projections and performances by dance and music groups, who during the opening days performed everything from classical ballet to contemporary dance. This overwhelming ensemble proves challenging to digest, and the visitor is left with no clear takeaway. To a certain extent, this is caused by the abundance of artworks present, which are a refreshing if disorienting addition to a biennial of architecture and urbanism. Some of the artworks are fascinating, such as Cao Fei’s video work Rumba II: Nomad, where several vacuuming robots are released in an urban fringe of Beijing in an absurd invasion and impossible task; others feel out of place, such as Lin Rui’s An Anniversary Present: For the Love of Sailor Moon & Eiffel Tower, which cryptically combines a model of the Eiffel Tower with a skeleton dressed in a Sailor Moon costume and pictures of the artist’s friends. On the other side of the spectrum are installations by young design studios that actively engage with the dynamics of Shenzhen, like the ethereal Notch, by Berlin-based alt ctrl and SOLUTION, built on site exclusively with components sourced from Huaqiangbei electronics market, or the whimsical Urban Village Furniture Exchange Program, by Huang Heshan and Jiang Fan, where Chinese copy tropes meet several vernacular examples of stools and chairs found everywhere in Nantou, and used by street sellers and inhabitants alike. All are named after famous architects and architecture studios. Architectural luminaries are also present, such as Atelier Bow-Wow, with the The Fire Foodies Club installation, and Yona Friedman, who presents two instances of his Street Museum in Nantou and Shekou. Additionally, the UABB features a strong presence by architecture schools, whose installations occupy a whole floor of the main venue, even if they do dissect the urban village typology to exhaustion. Overall, despite its convoluted nature, the biennale is surprising and fascinating, much of it is due to its location and the overwhelming participation of the local inhabitants. Walking through the crowds of local residents and international participants, one is unsure where the exhibition ends and life begins. And yet, the unique ambiance of Nantou itself might be as temporary as the biennial. In a rapidly changing context like Shenzhen, which grew from a fishing village to a megacity in under half a century, the UABB is at the center of large-scale transformation. This is true for Nantou Old Town itself, where the biennale is the first step in a regeneration plan for the whole area–a process in which URBANUS is a consultant and will undoubtedly play a part. Here’s to hoping that the urban village inspires the planned regeneration, so that Nantou can be preserved and continue to be an inspiration and testing ground for the future of the city.

V&A Abroad

Fumihiko Maki–designed culture hub opens in Shenzhen
Design Society, a new cultural hub in the bustling megacity of Shenzhen, China, will open on December 2 with the launch of the Sea World Culture and Arts Center (SWCAC), designed by Japanese architect and Pritzker Prize winner Fumihiko Maki. The hub is a collaboration between London's Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and China Merchants Shekhou, an urban developer that is part of the China Merchants Group, and represents the first partnership between a Chinese corporation and an international museum. Joining Coop Himmelblau's Shenzhen Contemporary Museum of Art and the cultural institutions and galleries in the OCT Loft, a creative arts district in a former industrial area of the city, the SWCAC represents another sign of the city's burgeoning design identity and a bid to bolster China's place in the global arts scene. For the The project is Maki's first project in China, and was commissioned by China Merchants Shekou in 2011. The arts complex, located on the Shekhou harbor, is distinguished by three white stone-and-glass volumes that cantilever out from a central podium building, with a glass opening at the end of each jutting mass that faces in three distinct directions, towards the water, the city, and the nearby park. The building also doubles as a landscape, with a rooftop park accessible to the public via two grand staircases at either end of the site, allowing visitors to take in views of the water and surrounding cityscape. Within the building, a central passageway connects the three main plazas and provides access to all the levels of the building. In total, the SWCAC offers 760,000 square feet of exhibition space over six floors, covering a footprint of 280,000 square feet. Maki envisioned the SWCAC as a "mini city," and so, along with six galleries, which includes a gallery dedicated to the V&A's own collection, the center also includes a theater, multi-purpose hall, restaurants and retail shops. For those curious about Maki or his design, one of the three opening exhibitions at SWCAC will present a retrospective of the architect's 60-year career and a close look at the design process behind creating the building itself, titled Nurturing Dreams in Recent Work: Fumihiko Maki + Maki and Associates.  The December 2 kickoff for Design Society and the SWCAC will include an extensive public program of events and exhibitions. The other opening exhibitions include Values of Design at the V&A Gallery, which will examine the relationship between values and design through over 250 objects from the V&A permanent collection, and Minding the Digital, a speculative digital design exhibit held at the Main Gallery, curated by Design Society and designed by MVRDV.

1,965 feet

Shenzhen’s Ping An Finance Center crowned World’s 4th Tallest Building
This article was originally published on ArchDaily as "CTBUH Crowns Ping An Finance Center as World's 4th Tallest Building."

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has announced the completion of the Ping An Finance Center in Shenzhen, China, according to CTBUH tall building criteria. At 599 meters (1,965 feet), it is now officially the second tallest building in China and the fourth tallest in the world, behind only the Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower and Makkah Royal Clock Tower.

Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), the Ping An Finance Center is located in the heart of Shenzhen’s Fuitan District. The building contains over 100 floors of office space located above a large public podium, with a multi-story atrium providing retail, restaurants, and transit options to the city and greater Pearl River delta region. The CTBUH describes the form of the tower as a “taught steel cable, outstretched by the sky and the ground at once. At the top of the tower, the façade tapers to form a pyramid, giving the tower a prismatic aesthetic.” The form is further emphasized by eight composite “megacolumns” along the building envelope that streamline the building for improved structural and wind performance, reducing baseline wind loads by 35 percent.

The facade of the building is one the project most innovative features; its use of 1,700 tons of 316L stainless steel makes the envelope the largest stainless steel facade system in the world. The specific material was chosen for its corrosion-resistance, which will allow the building to maintain its appearance for decades even in the city’s salty coastal atmosphere.

Read more about the project here. News via CTBUH. Written by Patrick Lynch. Want more from ArchDaily? Like their Facebook page here. Archdaily_Collab_1

MOCAPE

Coop Himmelb(l)au completes Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition in Shenzhen
Vienna-based firm Coop Himmelb(l)au has completed the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) as part of the master plan for the Futian Cultural District in Shenzhen, a major city in Guangdong Province, China. The complex merges two independent institutions—The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Planning Exhibition (PE)—within a structurally unified form. (The latter is an exhibition venue.) The combined art and exhibition facility consists of a seven-story building which reaches a maximum height of 131 feet, rests on a 233,447 square-foot site, and offers a total of 861,112 square feet of floor space. The building’s irregularly shaped volumes are clad in natural stone louvers and insulated glass, which create a transparent exterior. Within the complex, the central atrium houses an amorphous reflective structure referred to as ‘the Cloud,’ which houses a café, bookstore, and museum store, while joining the exhibition rooms of both museums with bridges and ramps, according to Perspective. Architects at Coop Himmelb(l)au extended this synergy between the two organizations throughout the complex, with both organizations sharing the lobby, auditorium, conference rooms, and service areas. According to a press release, “the transparent facade and a sophisticated internal lighting concept allow a deep view into the joint entrance and transitional areas between the buildings. From the inside, visitors are granted an unhindered view onto the city suggesting they are somewhere in a gently shaded outdoor area, an impression enhanced by 6 to 17 meter high, completely open and column-free exhibition areas.” Energy-wise, MOCAPE utilizes solar and geothermal energy, with a groundwater cooling system in attempts to reduce the facility’s carbon footprint. The transparent roofing of the museum also filters in natural sunlight into the exhibition rooms, reducing the need for artificial lighting sources.

Would be the tallest in China

bKL proposes megatall tower for Shenzhen
This new proposal by Chicago-based bKL would see a 700 meter (2,297 feet) tower built in Shenzhen, China. Dubbed the H700 Shenzhen Tower, the megatall structure (megatall is greater than 600 meters according to the CTBUH) would likely become the third tallest building in the world if completed. The current tallest, Dubai's Burj Khalifa at 2,717 feet tall, will soon be eclipsed by the Jeddah Tower in Saudia Arabia, which will rise to 3,280 foot. H700 would be the tallest building in China roughly and roughly 350 feet taller than the next tallest building in Shenzhen. The recently topped-out Ping An Finance Centre, at 1,969 feet, is the current tallest building in Shenzhen and China. The tower would continue Shenzhen’s eastern expansion. The large plaza at the base of the tower would add retail, civic, and institutional programs, providing a cultural space for the Central Business District (CBD). Project diagrams show sky gardens at intermediate floors as well as the at the buildings peak. With their Wolf Point West tower in Chicago recently completed, bKL is also working on one of the tallest buildings in Chicago as Architect of Record: the Studio Gang-designed Vista Tower.

KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten to Design New Shenzhen Art Museum
German studio KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten was selected last month in an international competition to design the new Shenzhen Art Museum and Library complex. The winning scheme was chosen over submissions by world-renowned firms including OMA, Mecanoo and Steven Holl. The winning design consists of an art museum, a library and archive, and a public square known as the “Culture Plaza,” all encased within cubic glass structures. An approximately twenty foot high stone pedestal forms the basis for the museum, library, and plaza. In addition to the podium and the plaza, the museum roof and the uniform facade material of matte glass help accentuate the coherent character of the structure’s designed components. The new museum is marked by different-size spaces; it includes about 160,000 square feet of exhibit space extending over three levels. The library features a four-story reading room with nearly 1,000 desks and a large skylight, and the archive is located in the podium and on the basement levels. Set back terraces have a cascading effect and act as a wayfinding element, while at the same time affording an impressive view of the “Culture Plaza” and the city. According to the architects, the central idea of the design is to create a public place that promotes interaction between people and culture. The art museum represents just one of many high-profile architectural projects that are currently taking place in the city of Shenzhen. Skyscrapers designed by Morphosis Architects, NBBJ and RMJM are in the works. Rem Koolhaas’ OMA has also won a competition to design their second tower in the city, following the Shenzhen Stock Exchange building.

Goettsch Partners to design five towers in booming Shenzhen’s Qianhai district
Goettsch Partners landed its largest project in China, a cluster of five towers on 15 acres in Shenzhen’s Qianhai district. China Resources Land Limited (CR Land) hired the Chicago-based Goettsch to design 5.4 million square feet of space for offices, apartments, a five-star hotel, and retail. U.K.–based Benoy is the masterplanner, and is designing a shopping mall and retail areas at the towers’ base. CR Land and Goettsch have worked together before, including on two hotel towers at Shenzhen Bay. Shenzhen’s Qianhai district is in a “special economic zone” targeted for development by the Chinese government, which envisions the 5.8-square-mile area as the “Manhattan of the Pearl River Delta.” Goettsch’s towers will rise in “Neighborhood 2,” the most recent Qianhai parcel to host development that Chinese authorities say will total $45 billion by the conclusion of the area’s overhaul. Their announcement has spurred a small frenzy of building and land speculation, attracting billions of dollars of investment from real estate developers in this boom town about an hour from Hong Kong. Goettsch’s design plays off the blue glass of nearby buildings with a metallic-painted aluminum frame, using horizontal fins on the hotel and apartment towers to differentiate them subtly. As with many such megablock developments in China, ground-level shopping and pedestrian paths will link the five towers. Since it was designated a special economic zone in the late 1970s, Shenzhen has seen its population balloon from 30,000 to more than 8 million. Its reputation as China’s “instant city” has brought an influx of foreign investment, but it also speaks of the city’s struggles with pollution and dangerous working conditions. Perhaps best known in the West for making Apple products, Shenzhen is a manufacturing hub that has been called "China's Silicon Valley." In the wake of a “suicide crisis” at Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer in charge of Shenzhen’s most notorious Apple factories, the company moved most of their jobs north to Zhengzhou.

OMA-Designed Shenzhen Stock Exchange Building Soars Into Hong Kong Sky
Next Tuesday, the nearly 850-foot-tall Shenzhen Stock Exchange Building will be inaugurated as the new head of capitalist trading in Hong Kong. OMA, Rem Koolhaas’ architectural firm, was commissioned to design and construct the soaring structure in 2006. After nearly $500 million in expenditures, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal blog, the square-form skyscraper with a surprising floating base, is complete. Situated 118 feet above an outdoor, ground-level plaza, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s three-story cantilevered podium creates drama in the building’s form while satisfying practical needs. This floating base provides shade to pedestrians, a garden rooftop, and an outward indication of interior operations. OMA located the stock exchange’s main trading floors in the interior of this base, allowing maximum square footage for the computer servers. With a facade constructed of a gridded exoskeleton over a patterned glass curtain wall, the building reacts to changes in weather, muting to reflect grey days and brightening when the sun peeks out. The generic skyscraper design of the rest of the structure allows it to fit in with existing neighbors, but clever details like these set it apart from the typical.

Ole Bouman, Jeffrey Johnson, Li Xiangning to Curate Shenzhen Biennale
It has just been announced that the Shenzen Biennale will be jointly curated by former NAi head Ole Bouman who will serve as Creative Director and American Jeffrey Johnson and Chinese scholar Li Xiangning, who will act as Academic Directors. The theme of the biennale which opens in December 2013 will be urbanization "outside the mainstream" and will take place in multiple sites around the region. Bouman will be responsible for curating the exhibition, "focusing on forward-looking design practices, and large-scale works" while Li Xiangning and New York-based Jeffrey Johnson will be responsible for a curatorial review and theoretical research. The last Shenzen Biennale (2011) was curated by Terence Riley and was one of the most interesting architecture exhibitions of the year.  

Terence Riley to Head 2011 Shenzhen/Hong Kong Biennale
Terence Riley has been selected to head the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture. After leaving his post as chief curator of architecture and design at MoMA, Riley set out to revamp the Miami Art Museum. Key to his tenure in Miami was a drive to move the museum into a new $100 million building designed by Herzog & de Meuron. But with economic downturn, the project stalled and Riley resigned in October of 2009. The new appointment makes him the first non-Chinese curator to head the five-year-old event. The program, which will be announced next year, focuses on the unique character of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and on young cities in particular. As Shenzhen's extraordinary growth has taken it from a fishing village to a major metropolis in only the past 50 years, it's a natural fit for the event. "The full program is still being developed, but our idea is to create a paradigm that considers the cyclical growth pattern of urban cities such as Shenzhen, where cities create architecture, architecture creates cities, and how the process continues without end," Riley said in a statment. "At a time when sustainability is imperative, the idea of describing an open process that takes into account its own renewal and constant evolution is essential."

Rem Speaks

Rem Koolhaas calls L.A. a “prototype” for the future of cities
In a recent interview with Nathan Gardels of The Washington Post, theorist-architect Rem Koolhaas spells out his updated vision for the future of global urbanism, describing a type of multi-nodal and highly-resilient conurbation that, at least according to Koolhaas, might look a lot like Los Angeles does today.  The wide-ranging interview covers a variety of topics, including the creeping threat of the "digital city" and whether the architect would be able to build his iconic CCTV tower in China today given tightened formal controls on new development—he says not in Beijing, but perhaps in Shenzhen—among other provocative issues.  But what stands out most is what Koolhaas sees as the future of global urbanization, as the “generic” postmodern city he detailed in works like S,M,L,XL undergoes existential change in the age of Donald Trump and global nationalism. According to Koolhaas, the various urban manifestations of generic international development have started to diverge into highly localized and diffuse variants. Koolhaas complains that despite the prolific growth of urban areas over the last thirty years, societies are currently doing a poor job preparing for an uncertain future. Koolhaas blames a reliance on the market economy and its attendant excesses as a prime driver for this type of impotence, saying, “For me, the issue is not about the inefficiency of democracies versus efficient autocracies but how and where a society wants to allocate its resources. It is really a matter of ideology, of whether the interests of the market or the society as a whole are the priority." Decrying the demise of “strong state capacity” to get massive works of infrastructure and urbanization built, Koolhaas takes aim at the inability of the contemporary city to deliver necessary and vital transformative projects and services just as the localizing forces of globalization take root. Koolhaas says, “It is ironic that just as people want to see a built environment that reflects who they are, what we are seeing in much of the world is that urban planning is scarcely possible because market economies are not generating the necessary funds for it. Any major project of public interest, including even precautions against hurricanes in coastal regions of America, can’t get done.” The Dutch architect is unclear about whether or how cities will persevere through this crisis, but nevertheless has recast the generic, profuse city that sprawls into and out of the countryside as an apt model for absorbing future instabilities. Koolhaas points directly to the Dutch courbation known as Randstad, where he resides, and to Los Angeles as sources for potential solutions:
WorldPost: You’ve traveled the world many times over and built all over. In your view, what cities are most prepared to face the future? Koolhaas: I have lived for 30 years in either New York and London, but now I’m living in Randstad [a metropolis consisting of the four largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht]. It is a bit bizarre for me. There are no dominant cities but together the whole area is connected in a kind of metropolitan field. All the facilities and amenities you’d find in a city are here but decentralized across the whole zone. It is kind of an extended city not dependent on coherence or adjustment of each of the parts to each other. Yet it is able to sustain itself as a connected entity — kind of like a collage. So I would say cities like this that are more open and not so complex to operate are best prepared for whatever the future throws at them. Los Angeles is the prototype of this kind of habitat for the future.