Shenzhen Energy Mansion is designed for a state-owned Shenzhen Energy Company in the downtown area of Shenzhen, China. BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group, won the international design competition in 2009, and construction began in 2012 then completed the construction of the office tower in 2018 with collaborating ARUP, Transsolar, Front. The building covers 96,000 square meters and consists of two towers, rises 240 meters in the north while a 34-meter podium connects 120 meters height tower in the south with the north tower.

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Photo ©Chao Zhang

Since 2005 Shenzhen city intends to be an eco-city, and in 2016 it was recognized as one of the most sustainable cities in China besides its spectacular economic and social development. The design competition client was also one of the city’s main power generation companies and known for its renewable energy investments in both domestic and foreign. Under these circumstances, while designing the skyscrapers, BIG set its main philosophy to create an energy-efficient building. To achieve that, they designed a classical glass tower and optimized the building envelope according to solar orientation. They diminished opening on sunny sides; thus, the building was not exposed to much sunlight, and enlarged on the north faced openings to benefit from natural light and provide nice views. The building differs from the classical glass-faced skyscrapers with these fluctuating curtain walls, and that appears as an organic pattern from a distance and pleated structure from close. 

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Photo ©Chao Zhang

The site is located facing east and west; hence, the building is exposed to excessive heat gain in the mornings and late afternoons, and during the noon, the sun reaches inside the tower at a steep angle. Therefore, much consumption of air conditioning is needed. Thanks to folded facade design, excessive sunlight is prevented by opaque insulated elements, and with transparency, the view is not blocked completely when there is no direct sun. Also, facade orientation served to keep moisture out and benefit more from the wind.

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Image courtesy Bjarke Ingels Group

Even though the client was a firm that invests in high technologies that contribute to energy efficiency, facade design serves as a passive solar strategy and decreases energy consumption by eschewing expensive technology equipment. Therefore, Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner of BIG, defines the design as an example of “engineering without engines” and urges upon that they aimed to solve the problems with passive systems because it is less costly.

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Image courtesy Bjarke Ingels Group
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Image courtesy Bjarke Ingels Group

Rippled skin that surrounds the towers creates a classical view, and the geometry nonetheless, fluctuations on the building surface, contributes to the view on upper floors and at the north and south ends of the towers are recessed to make the entrances more accessible. There are three entrances to the building, and they caused multiple indentations and protrudes on the facade. Thus, that gave the final shape of the building’s envelope.

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Photo © Chao Zhang
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Photo ©Julien Lanoo 

BIG placed the offices on the highest floors for the spatial organization to advance a marvelous city view and keep the rest of the floors as rentable office spaces. The top 13 floors provided a space for the headquarters of the company. Stretched parts on the building facade created extra views on differently functioned rooms. Also, nine-story connecting block and bottom levels of the towers house main lobbies, a conference center, a cafeteria, an exhibition space, and a parking space.

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Photo © Chao Zhang
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Section- Image courtesy ©2020 Architype Review Inc.

The design intended to utilize the roofs planted areas as a continuation of the green recreation areas surrounding the building, and since the district contains towers and not green parks, Shenzhen Energy Mansion can become prominent for its greenery.

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Photo ©Julien Lanoo
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Section- Image courtesy ©2020 Architype Review Inc.

The curtain wall’s main material is powder-coated (PVDF) aluminum, and for the large windows, double-glazed panes of low-E tempered glass angled at 45 degrees in the plane. However, after the sun goes down, the texture resembles the wood or vertically terraced hills due to the building’s changing transparency and curved surfaces.

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Photo © Chao Zhang
Shenzhen International Energy Mansion by BIG: The uncommon facade design - Sheet14
Photo © Chao Zhang

The curtain walls’ structural system consists of a reinforced concrete base and external beam-column frames supposed to carry the high building height and provide endurance in bad weather conditions such as typhoon winds and protect from seismic loading. Also, sustainable active systems are integrated with the building, such as highly effective lighting systems and gray water recycling systems. Considering China’s subtropical climate, BIG believes that the innovative dual chilled water and energy storage system can reduce energy consumption. 

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Photo © Chao Zhang

Shenzhen Energy Mansion is a design that sets sustainability as its concept and determines to increase environmental awareness among Chinese society and encourages the use of passive systems as an esthetic value in design. The building was awarded LEED Gold certification and two out of three stars under the Chinese Green Building Evaluation Label. It is also a building that reinforces the client company’s public opinion as an environmentally friendly firm because, even though there is little information on the internet about the company, many sources mention its eco-friendly office towers. Therefore, that is a successful design because it corresponds to the client’s expectations even though the building does not look much different from a classic, glass covered with curtain walls, skyscrapers.

References

https://big.dk

https://www.architecturalrecord.com

https://www.archdaily.com

https://www.forbes.com

https://www.ecowatch.com

Müge Elmas
Author

MügeElmas is currently an architecture student studying at Ozyegin University, Istanbul, in the senior year. After graduation, she aspires to continue her masters. She is interested in all forms of art, but is specifically passionate about movies and set designs, and always seeks new experiences to widen her knowledge about art and architecture.

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