The seat of the Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank, designed by the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) architecture studio and recently opened in Shenzhen, southeast China, was defined as a “breathable” building. The new bank 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 architectural firm SOM was entrusted with the project in 2012. The contracting authorities asked the architects to design a building that would project the bank into the future, while recalling its history as a rural bank.
A project which 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 bank headquarters, transforming it into a real landmark for the neighborhood, is the external box spring structure that envelops the facades of the building and plays a dual function: like a large breaker. sun which protects the building from the strong sun but, above all, serves as a supporting structure for the tower. The diagrid structure thus becomes an exoskeleton which allowed the architects to free the internal spaces from the 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 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 it integrates: land, water and air. the Earth the reference is evident in the marble cladding of the tower elevator core. the air element, on the other hand, is embodied by the natural ventilation system that ensures fresh air both in common areas and in office spaces. The building breathes thanks to the two atriums which span the tower vertically and to its full height. On each floor, in fact, employees can open or close the circulation exits, allowing the fresh air coming from the atria to diffuse in the different environments. Finally, the water – which in feng shui represents the flow of money, as well as of 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 wall of rippling water has been created. In addition, the transparent walls of the lobby create a “rain curtain“where the water cascades over small translucent filaments. Thanks to these solutions, on hot summer days, these water games provide an evaporative cooling effect for the entire building, with savings in considerable energy. The reference to water is also found in other elements such as the lighting fixtures reminiscent of large hanging raindrops, as well as in the marble wall covering, whose smooth finish evokes the effect polishing water on the stone.
Project Name: Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank Headquarters
Client: Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank
Location: Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
Project area: 94,049 square meters
Building meters: 158 meters
Number of stories: 33
Design Team: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill www.som.com
Services: Architecture / MEP / Structure + Civil Engineering
Photograph: © Seth Powers Photography