Client: Shanghai West Bund Development (Group) Co., Ltd.
Location: Shanghai, China
Architect: Nikken Sekkei Ltd
Site Area: 72,209 Sq.M.
Total Floor Area: 513,152 Sq.M.
Building Height: 231m
Completion: 2021

Overview And Context

The AI TOWER, a centrepiece development of the West Bund AI Valley, dominates the Xuhui District’s coastline. Given that it is home to more than 20 businesses, it does well regarding the economy, professionals, and popularity. The foundations of an AI industrial chain that unites industry, academia, government, and research institutions are being laid. GRC, CEA Riverside Center, Hanghui Building, U-CENTER, Alibaba, Voice of Dream, and other under-construction buildings can be found next to the tower. These initiatives help to maintain the 1.2 million m2 West Bund AI Valley beside the Huangpu River. Shanghai‘s and the nation’s AI industries.
It brings together leading AI-based businesses, unicorn businesses, gazelle businesses, and ecological chain businesses, assisting in developing a 100 billion yuan AI industry cluster and fostering innovation, commercial use, and demonstration applications for the sector in Shanghai and the rest of China.
This project involved redeveloping the former Longhua International Airport airfield and aviation industrial site in Shanghai’s West Bund neighbourhood near the Huangpu River.

Shanghai West Bund International AI Tower and Plaza by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet1


Two towers, a high-end office building, an aircraft station, an arts centre, and a five-star hotel are part of the suburban complex. A sizable retail complex has also been built at the back of the towers. The plan is a component of a brand-new, exclusive urban neighbourhood on the banks of the Huangpu River. The client required a creative approach to go along with it since it seeks to open up new commercial and innovation frontiers in Shanghai.


The concept of “wind” and its associations with past local aviation history, the vicinity’s aeronautical industry, and present atmospheric airflow served as the design’s first source of inspiration.


The theme was established by the wind and runway. The site’s old runway was turned into a park and placed along the urban axis. The city’s general layout and streets support a vibrant urban atmosphere. By rendering the streets more minor, mixed-use activities were merged. Many green brick places have been built, and around 60% of the planned city block is purposefully unoccupied. The greens of the runway memorial park are linked to the other open green areas on the property and, eventually, to the green space along the river. The retail sector is placed over the green link, resulting in public areas and plazas for an eco-friendly city where people can easily walk about.

Shanghai West Bund International AI Tower and Plaza by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet2

Impact And Influence On The Surrounding Urban Environment

The development’s overall influence on the neighbourhood, especially regarding the “heat island” effect, is mitigated through the plan’s building layouts. It also reflects a rethinking of regular high-density constructions, where dense rows of buildings generally block wind movement, and heat buildup results from overusing air conditioning systems. The site’s “windbreak” design, which is streamlined, dampens more significant wind currents in low-rise zones, enhancing comfort in public areas near the towers.

Shanghai West Bund International AI Tower and Plaza by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet3

Envisioning a New City

The neighborhood had declined in recent years as a result of the shutdown of the nearby airport, with the runway, hangars, and other infrastructure scattered across an unsightly cityscape. This urban rehabilitation project, however, aimed to modify the region rather than erase its past by creating an architectural and urban design that recasts the area’s spatial layout, natural environment, and aviation image into a contemporary, ecologically friendly metropolis. By making this vision a reality, the initiative has attracted leading robotics, artificial intelligence firms, etc. This architectural strategy has also opened the path for a future city teeming with top businesses inside the development and in the neighbourhood.

Shanghai West Bund International AI Tower and Plaza by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet4
Shanghai West Bund International AI Tower and Plaza by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet5

Innovation And Technology

Plans ranging from building volumes and interiors to commercial public areas, landscaping, and the waterfront environment all made use of fluid simulation technologies. As a consequence, there is now a 70,000 m2 public area with plants, water, wind, and light that has an environmentally aware urban impact.

WSP provided smart consulting services, building services engineering, and vertical transportation for this 510,000 sq. m mixed-use development from concept design to construction sustainable.

We develop creative, comprehensive, and  engineering solutions for a future where society can thrive. Equipped with an intimate understanding of local intricacies, world-class talent, and proactive leadership, we plan, design, manage and engineer long-lasting and impactful solutions to uniquely complex problems.
Our first step was to sit down with the property management team to identify areas where smart technology could add value. It quickly became clear that the key challenges they had faced in the past arose from internal MEP systems operating in isolation from each other and that a more connected network would significantly boost operational efficiency.

WSP’s approach involved digitalizing all of the AI Tower’s systems, from lighting to heated water, and connecting them all to one Internet of Things (IoT) platform. There are several advantages to having highly interactive equipment, systems, and people, from eliminating numerous maintenance schedules to having real-time insight into what is occurring within the facility. For example, if a fire alarm goes off on the corner of the fourteenth floor, a nearby CCTV camera will instantly start recording, enabling rapid validation about whether or not there is indeed a fire without dispatching a crew to the scene. Importantly, a user-friendly, 3D visualization interface made using BIM was established so that the building operator could quickly understand what various components of the tower’s intricate system were doing at any given time. This was another design breakthrough from our expertise. The user experience is also considerably improved by the building’s digital platform. People may obtain real-time data such as interior air quality, parking spots, and the amount of traffic in the lobby via a mobile app, enabling more effective planning. The system might potentially be further configured to allow customers to alter the temperature setting of the nearby air conditioners, depending on operating requirements.

Building Performance Results

As a consequence of the applied architectural and engineering designs, AI Tower has obtained LEED-gold certification and a China 3-star rating, and features such as ice storage and ground source heat pump system are anticipated to result in energy savings of over 35% when compared to the ordinary structure. Daylight and occupancy sensors also maximize natural light and airflow, cutting down on electricity use while improving health.


Shanghai west bund international AI Tower & Plaza: Mixed use / tod: Projects (no date) NIKKEN SEKKEI LTD. Available at: (Accessed: November 22, 2022).

 Shanghai west bund international AI Tower & Plaza – World Buildings Directory: Architecture Search Engine (no date) World Buildings Directory Architecture Search Engine. Available at: (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 

Shanghai west bund AI tower: A digital strategy for intuitive connection (no date) WSPglobal. Available at: (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 


Qazi Shadman is an aspiring architecture student. He is enthusiastic about learning, assimilating, and sharing varied perspectives, opinions, and philosophies associated with the field, as he explores the art of architectural journalism. He is equally passionate about travel, art, photography, and fashion and their translations in architecture.