The Wangjing SOHO in Beijing is a mixed-use skyscraper designed by the Queen of Curves, Zaha Hadid. When looking at these buildings, one can see three mountain-like skyscrapers shimmering under the golden sun, as if they are almost in motion. The iconic multipurpose complex, consisting of three towers measuring 118m, 127m and 200m height, was inaugurated in September 2014. It is located in Wangjing, one of the fastest-growing business districts in Beijing and a hub for IT and telecommunications firms and technology start-ups.

Wangjing SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects: Dancing Fans - Sheet1
Wangjing SOHO_©Zaha Hadid Architects.

Concept

The Wangjing SOHO towers illustrate a fluid design, just like several other fluid architectures designed by Zaha Hadid. Some say the curvilinear structures resemble pebbles; others view them as dancing mountains. In an interview, Pan Shiyi, Chairman of the Board of SOHO China, said that the design of Wangjing SOHO was meant to depict Koi fishes in motion. Koi fishes are a traditional Chinese symbol of wealth, luck, health and happiness. 

Wangjing SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects: Dancing Fans - Sheet2
Wangjing SOHO_©Dezeen

However, the actual concept of Zaha Hadid and architects was to design intertwining mountains that fuse buildings and landscapes. In addition, the complex is designed to allow daylight in each building in every direction. The flow of the three curved structures mirrors the movement of the busy road it is located in. This multifunctional complex fits into the megacity as if it were an inherent part. 

Wangjing SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects: Dancing Fans - Sheet3
Wangjing SOHO_©arch20 magazine

Design 

Wangjing SOHO is one of three skyscrapers developed by Zaha Hadid for SOHO China. The other two structures are the Galaxy SOHO and Leeza SOHO. The façade of the towers appears as individual buildings from some directions and connected from other angles. They are positioned in such a way to direct people to the various transport links surrounding the structures. Zaha Hadid Architects team quotes, “The juxtaposition of the tower’s fluid forms continuously changes when viewed from different directions; appearing as individual buildings in some views, or as a connected ensemble in others”.

This mixed-use complex is intended mainly for retail and office spaces. The total construction floor area is 521,265m². Each tower has an expanded entrance lobby with a ceiling that is 10meters high. The lobbies extend into the buildings and open towards a central plaza and shopping street. In addition, the towers house flexible, open-plan office spaces ranging from 1,100m² to 2,200m² in area, where windows open to allow natural ventilation. The ribbon windows of glass and aluminium wrap the tapering towers horizontally, allowing maximum daylight.

Wangjing SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects: Dancing Fans - Sheet4
Wangjing SOHO_©Inhabitat

The towers frame new public spaces to serve the buildings’ occupants and the local neighbourhood. The connection with outdoor space encourages people to live and breathe the fabric of this development, providing a comfortable and relaxing environment. There is a public park to the south and landscaped gardens towards the north, and activity zones and water parks to the east and west. The four-themed landscaped gardens span to 50,000m² incorporating a sports area, recreational theatre, art sculptures and waterscape. 

The total above-ground floor area of Wangjing SOHO is 392,265 m2, with four levels below ground adding up to 129,000 m2. The parking level includes secure parking for 8256 bicycles and showers for cyclists. Charging spaces for low-emission vehicles are also available within the basement car park.

Wangjing SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects: Dancing Fans - Sheet5
Wangjing SOHO_©Inhabitat

Construction

The architecture of Wangjing SOHO seeks to come across as an icon of modern technology, an impression reiterated by the fact that construction was carried out with innovative solutions. Zaha Hadid Architects began the construction of the mixed-use complex in 2011. Tower 1 (118m) and Tower 2 (127m) were completed by 2013, and Tower 3 was constructed by September 2014. The facade of the building comprises a window wall system with double-insulated, unitised low-E glass. The external louvres are created from curved horizontal ribbons of custom-designed white aluminium panels of varying heights, widths and depths. These external louvres provide overhangs for sun shading, maintenance terraces, and water collection. The interiors are engineered with low volatile organic compounds (VOC) to keep the air fresh. 

Sustainable Features 

The Wangjing SOHO building is designed following the US Green Building LEED certification standards and has obtained LEED Gold pre-certification. It has high-performance, low-emission glazing systems and MEP installations specially designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and potable water and energy consumption. Furthermore, approximately 40% of the water is recycled and reused. Other sustainable features include energy-efficient control sensors, energy monitoring systems, heat recovery from exhaust air, high-efficiency fans, pumps, boilers, and chillers. These features allow the project to reduce energy expenses by almost 13% and potable-water consumption by 42% regarding ASHRAE standard buildings. Low VOC interior materials have been used to remove the pollution sources from within, and the fresh air rate inhaled by each person exceeds the ASHRAE standard by 30%.

The curved and tapered structure of the Wangjing SOHO combined with sustainable features exhibits an exceptional mixed-use architecture that has created an identity for a thriving area that plays host to cultural institutions and IT companies.

References:

  1. Arup.com. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.arup.com/projects/wangjing-soho> [Accessed 6 March 2022].
  2. Zaha-hadid.com. 2022. Wangjing SOHO – Zaha Hadid Architects. [online] Available at: <https://www.zaha-hadid.com/architecture/wangjing-soho/> [Accessed 6 March 2022].
  3. Arquitectura Viva. 2022. Wangjing Soho, Beijing – Zaha Hadid Architects. [online] Available at: <https://arquitecturaviva.com/works/wangjing-soho-1> [Accessed 6 March 2022].
Author

Every architecture has a different story to tell, and Nanziba Khaled takes pride in conveying those stories through her words. Nanziba is an aspiring architect who thrives on creativity; she believes in the power of the pen to express her views on art and architecture.

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