SOM Designs Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank Head Office

The seat of the Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank, designed by the Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) architecture studio and recently opened in Shenzhen, southeast China, were defined as a “breathing” building. The bank’s new headquarters is a 158-meter-high, 33-story tower built in one of the main business districts of the modern Chinese metropolis and located near a large public park.
The architecture office SOM was entrusted with the project in 2012. The project owners had asked the architects to design a building projecting the bank into the future, while recalling its history as a rural bank.
A project that is a perfect synthesis between architecture and innovative engineering solutions – the particularity of all the projects designed by the SMO studio – and in which solutions respecting the principles of sustainability and biophilia have been carefully adopted to cope with the hot tropical climate typical of the region. The element that most characterizes the new headquarters of the bank, turning it into a real landmark for the neighborhood, is the external frame structure that envelops the facades of the building and performs a double function: as a great which protects the building from the strong sun but above all by serving as a supporting structure for the tower. The box spring structure thus becomes an exoskeleton that allowed the architects to free the interior spaces from vertical supports, ensuring maximum flexibility in terms of the planimetric organization of the work areas. At the base of the tower, the network of diagonal beams that make up the diagrid structure widens out to create entry points into the building and frame beautiful views of the nearby public park and scenic Qianhai Bay.
The architects of the SMO studio designed the interior of the building based on the principles of feng shui and the three essential elements that it integrates: land, water and air. the Earth the reference is evident in the marble cladding of the tower’s elevator core. the air element, on the other hand, is embodied by the natural ventilation system that ensures fresh air both in the common areas and in the office spaces. The building breathes thanks to the two atriums which span the tower vertically and over its entire height. On each floor, in fact, employees can open or close the circulation vents, allowing fresh air from the atriums to diffuse into the different environments. Finally, the water – which in feng shui represents the flow of money, as well as ideas and relationships – was chosen as the main element characterizing the entrance spaces. The lobby is surrounded by a reflecting pool, and next to the main entrance a rippling wall of water has been created. In addition, the transparent walls of the hall create a “rain curtain“where the water cascades over small translucent filaments. Thanks to these solutions, on hot summer days, these water features provide an evaporative cooling effect for the entire building, with energy savings The reference to water is also found in other elements such as the lighting fixtures that recall large hanging raindrops, as well as in the marble wall covering, whose smooth finish evokes the effect of polishing water on the stone.

(Agnes Bifulco)

Project name: Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank Headquarters
Client: Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank
Location: Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
Completed: 2021

Project area: 94,049 square meters
Building meters: 158 meters
Number of stories: 33

Design Team: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

Services: Architecture / MEP / Structure + Civil Engineering
Photography: © Seth Powers Photography

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