Located within Liu Xian Dong’s High-Tech district, this housing project provides a home for some of Shenzhen’s booming talents. The 150.000m2 small-scale apartments and 20.000m2 hotel are complemented with 15.000m2 amenity spaces and 5.000m2 commercial space surrounding courtyard and towards the street.

Studio Name: MLA+

Design Team:
MLA+: Emiel Koole, Reza Al-Kaabi, Chunyang Chang, Markus Appenzeller, Gerard Maccreanor, Brechtje Spreeuwers
CAPOL (Executive Architect)

Program: 150.000 m2 block containing micro residential units, hotel, retail, supporting uses

Stages: 2014 Concept
2015 – 19 Design Development, Construction Supervision
2019 Completion
Location: Shenzhen, China
Photography Credits: Zhang Chao

Liu Xian Dong micro apartments By MLA+ - Sheet3
©Zhang Chao

MLA+ makes buildings that land in the city in an integrated way and enhance the urban environment. This applies even more so to this complex. The plinth of the building is designed as a continuous colonnade which varies in height and depth. It unifies all the functions that can be found on the ground floor: retail on all sides, the hotel entrance to the north, and a regional post office to the south. The communal entrances to the courtyards as well as the parking entrances are fully integrated into this system. This covered space provides shadow in the heat of Shenzhen summers and protection against the subtropical thunderstorms that hit the city frequently. The colonnade is finished in a white local granite which is polished at street level to 1,8m in height. To create more visual depth, each of the four towers is given a color that gradually darkens as you go up the building. From far away this gives each tower a distinct character, while on street level and up to 24m they share the same unified grey base.

Liu Xian Dong micro apartments By MLA+ - Sheet5
©Zhang Chao

The shaping of the “Tropical Metropolis” complex started with the (European) city block as an archetype. The result is an efficient, yet elegant structure that complements its surroundings. It provides comfort and a sense of community for all its residents, and offers 4.800 identical residential micro-units of 18m2, as well as a 238 room business hotel. All rooms are fully furnished and provide a living space, double bed, bathroom, a basic kitchen appliance, and a private balcony. Each residential floor is equipped with a communal living room, strategically placed at corners with splendid views.

Liu Xian Dong micro apartments By MLA+ - Sheet11
©Zhang Chao

At the same time, great care has gone into the courtyard and ground floor areas. They are essential community spaces, visited on every journey home. They are well ventilated through lower floors openings, and cooled by subtropical planting and shading. Everyday amenities like restaurants, shops, laundry, club, and library spaces surround a landscape outdoor space. Located in Shenzhen’s newest center, the residents can meet more peers, live a better life, and build a better future even as newcomers.


MLA+ works on urban planning, landscape design, architecture and consultancy projects globally, with more than 30 years of experience and a total staff of 200+ employees in Rotterdam, London, Berlin, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Shanghai and Shenzhen.


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