Projects: Design Studio
Alibaba Group Headquarters Concept
Along the water's edge of Shenzhen, China, a promising site is nestled between the thriving Central Business District of Houhai and the new F1 Power Boat attractions and up-coming Sports Centre. Here, the city awaits a beautiful local landmark. To this end, we created this design concept in 2009 for the Alibaba Group - a family of Internet-based companies that cover business-to-business online marketplaces.
A pair of towers, which would cover about 1,614,587 sf., are immediately identified as the Alibaba Headquarters and provide a stunning backdrop to the Shenzhen Bay. Through the design process, we drew on local tradition for inspiration. The concept is based on the appearance and effect of random stacking coins, bringing good luck and prosperity to its occupants, and representing the upward mobility and diversity of the company and its clients. The iconic structure's unique shape is instantly identifiable, with a view that changes as one moves around it. Being headquarters for an E-commerce company, the design suggests an effective metaphor for business, money, growth, and power. The 12-story tower sits closest to the water, while the taller 18-story tower rises behind it. Situated diagonally from each other, the towers create a sense of unity and balance, while keeping site lines for each angle of the bay intact.
The complex stands in contrast to surrounding buildings by having smooth, flowing lines and curves as opposed to rigid forms. Each story is staggered as it rises, providing a terrace for each floor from the roof of the level below. This allows outdoor open air and green space to be accessible on every level. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide maximum light and reduce power consumption. The oval logo is clearly incorporated into the floor plate design and is arranged lengthwise on the site, taking full advantage of the space, while respecting the ground level below.
To respect the street grid and enhance a pedestrian experience, a square podium serves as a structural base and provides an efficient use of space for retail and meeting amenities. This podium features a living, green space on the roof which absorbs rainwater, provides insulation, creates a habitat for vegetation, and lowers urban air temperatures. An interconnecting pedestrian arcade unifies the buildings with a central walkway as the connecting element, giving the site a sense of visual organization.
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