The winning design of a large international architectural competition, ‘The Two Towers’, was recently announced in Shenzhen, China. The team selected to design this new Shenzhen landmark – comprising 100.000 square meters in total – is a constellation of ADEPT (DK) and Urbanus(CHN) with VSA (HK), Max Fordham LLP (GB) and Beijing CCI Architectural Design Co, LTD (CHN). The jury meeting was hosted at the Shenzhen Municipal Planning Building with Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne as chairman of the jury.
As the competition title suggests, the project is comprised of two towers, the CDB Tower (150 meters) and the Minsheng Financial Tower (120 meters), functioning as new headquarters for the two fi nancial institutions. The challenge of designing two new towers in Shenzhen raised the question as to what kind of tower could be added in the context of an already impressive skyline. Analysis of this context suggested considerable emphasis has been placed in recent years on achieving extravagant, visually unique forms amongst the towers themselves – a situation that has generally occurred at the expense of the quality and liveliness of the urban spaces at their base.
In addressing this, ‘The Two Towers’ project attempts to articulate the skyscraper not as a purely visual landmark, but as a functional landmark welcoming and embracing citizens and visitors. In this way, the skyscraper as a type is capable of contributing toward a future urban culture by stimulating the urban area that it is rooted in. The focus of the design therefore has been the activation of the ground floors by placing active and public-oriented programs in visible positions, closely connected to the surrounding public realm. By shifting the volumes around a sunken plaza, a dynamic shaded public space is created underneath, supporting a clear.
identity for the two institutions. Furthermore, the volumes are broken down into a human scale on the ground fl oor, creating a remarkable three-dimensional public space on many levels. Green and blue elements generate a pleasant micro-climate in these stacked spaces. Not only complying with the urban regulations and conditions of the local context, the scheme creates a diverse public space that exceeds the expectations implied in the brief.
A key factor for the clients has been the representation of a stable image for the fi nancial institution. With this in mind, the expression of the towers themselves refl ects strength combined with an image of generosity. Both towers are designed with structural cores and load-carrying façades leaving the offi ce spaces in the towers open and free of columns. The expressions of the towers are related, but diff erentiated to convey the separate identities of the two institutions. The façades are fi nished in two diff erent types of stone – the CDB Tower in a darker tone and the Minsheng Financial Tower in a lighter tone. The glazing system on each tower underlines the two diff erent tower typologies – the vertical point and the rectangular slab.
The façade design of both towers reacts to the amount of sunlight and energy each façade is exposed to. Detailed studies of sun conditions led to the design of an energy performing façade off ering more shade to sun-affected areas. This results in a changing façade that offers a soft gradient that is reflected differently at each time of the day. Furthermore, the positioning of a series of atriums in the towers is based on views to the surroundings. In the atrium areas the windows expand to off er better views and more light to the interior spaces. Additionally, the atriums create interior gardens and recreational spaces in the office towers, generating greater spatial variety and improved social interaction amongst the buildings’ users.