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SOM’s ‘breathing’ building opens in Shenzhen

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SOM’s ‘breathing’ building opens in Shenzhen

SOM designed the building for Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank.


By David Malone, Managing Editor | January 3, 2022
Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank HQ exterior
All photos: © Seth Powers Photography

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has completed a new 518-foot-tall, 33-story tower located on the edge of a public park at the center of one of Shenzhen’s key business districts. The building will act as a new headquarters for Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank.

The tower’s facade is defined by an external diagrid, which serves as both the building’s structure as well as an important solar shading element. At its base, the diagrid widens to create framed openings and views to the surrounding park and South China Sea.

Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank HQ lobby

The building’s lobby is encircled by a reflecting pool and features a rippling wall of water adjacent to the main entrance. A rain curtain, with droplets of water that cascade down small translucent filaments, lines the lobby’s transparent glass walls. On hot days, these water features provide an evaporative cooling effect for the entire building. Above, suspended lighting fixtures mimic droplets of rain and the lobby’s marble walls shift from a textured to honed finish to evoke water’s effect on stone. Reflecting pools, gray granite paving and seating areas, and arrays of trees and ground cover define the main entrance spaces and small gardens at the base of the tower.

Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank HQ atria

Two vertical atria span the height of the tower, allowing employees on each floor to use louvres to open and close vents, accessing fresh air from the atria. This process allows the building to “breathe” when Shenzhen’s climate is pleasant, filling the entire building with fresh air. By functioning like airways in a body and cycling fresh air through the building, these features generate significant savings in environmental and energy efficiency. At the crown of the tower, operable walls and an outdoor deck further blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Interior spaces are defined by a minimal glass perimeter wall and a daylight-responsive shading system. A communicating stairway runs the height of the tower, fostering connectivity and collaboration among coworkers.

Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank HQ interior

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