The digital world of tomorrow
In China, Zaha Hadid Architects are building two 400-metre giant structures that make sensational use of digital possibilities. With its smart solutions, Tower C is efficient and, above all, environmentally friendly.
Hitting the spot in China
Patrik Schumacher, head of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), clearly has a feel for what will go down well in the People’s Republic of China. After all, the number of projects that he has landed there in recent years is nothing short of staggering.
Such as the Leeza SOHO tower in Beijing. Or Beijing Daxing International Airport. Or the new headquarters of mobile phone manufacturer OPPO in Shenzhen, where Schumacher and his projects are all the rage. And ZHA were also commissioned with building the pebble-shaped Science & Technology Museum in the new Guangming Science City.
And now we have the gigantic Tower C. These are projects for which pretty much all leading international architecture firms have been vying. But when you see what the latest creation has to offer, there is no doubting that the Chinese picked a real winner this time. Because it is truly amazing.
Let’s look at the key statistics first. Architectural firms were invited to submit tenders for a colossal office and shopping complex that would house a cluster of company headquarters, conference centres and residential areas. Essentially a fully functioning city in which 300,000 people can live and work. Albeit on a very limited base area right in the Bay of Shenzhen.
Tower C: a vertical city
This made it clear that all designs would need to reach great heights, in every sense. As was indeed the case with ZHA’s concept, which has two parallel towers rising a spectacular 400 metres into the Chinese sky.
At the same time, it makes full use of the available base area through a striking multi-storey podium. However, as well as connecting the two towers directly to the subway network below and creating green spaces, the stepped podium uses a nifty architectural trick to direct a maximum of daylight into the two “hugging” towers right above them.
The architects themselves go as far as to describe this foundation as the “heart” of the building complex: “Connecting directly with its adjacent park and plazas which transform into a terraced landscape extending upwards within its two towers, the design invites the public into the heart of the building. Tower C’s stepped podium integrates with the park to create a new public space for this dynamic city that has grown to become a global centre of technology innovation.”
Technology: the real centrepiece
Which leads us to the actual centrepiece of Tower C – the technological wizardry that makes this project the only one of its kind in the world. In simple terms, the two towers have a highly complex data centre which, with the aid of various sensors, collects and evaluates – in real time – data from all rooms and outside areas, and initiates any responses that are needed from the building technology.
But what does this mean in practical terms? Let’s start with the towers’ double-insulated glass façade. This is equipped with vertical channels and, at the same time, with adjustable shading elements. Air temperature is constantly measured by sensors between the layers of glass – if one area is exposed to too much sunlight, the hot air is diverted away and replaced with cooler air. And the shading elements are automatically readjusted.
Things function in much the same way inside the building. Here, sensors monitor the air quality and use specialist technology to ensure that the climate in each part of the building is always suitable for the activities taking place there. Pollution from the local environment is also filtered so that it cannot penetrate the building. All of which happens in real time. Even the garden areas on the individual terraces are watered and fertilized automatically.
Unsurprisingly, the energy needed to power these high-tech features is generated by the building’s own large-scale photovoltaic system, while a water collection and treatment facility is also planned. And it only stands to reason that the materials used for the entire building are recycled or have a negligible CO2 footprint.
Smart and sustainable
At any rate, Tower C gives a tantalizing foretaste of what we can certainly expect to see here in Europe before long: buildings that offer more than just a roof over our heads.
that might interest you
Good news for local fauna: The dedication of not-for-profit organization CABI to combatting climate change through innovative agricultural solutions is reflected in the architecture of its new headquarters in England.
Alan Hofmann is a building engineer and timber constructor from Austria. His company Woodplan occupies a digital niche for building projects around the world. In this interview he describes his interpretation of intelligent offices, and how an office can be smart in an old Austrian building.
In everyday office life, automation is especially key to success. Lighting, sound, shading, heating, cooling, ventilation and access systems can be operated centrally with intelligent controls by Loxone.
The new co-working space Hammerbrooklyn in Hamburg is designed to be a place of inspiration and creativity. Besides its passion and dedication, this curated community thrives on a desire for innovation and thirst for the future.
Cologne is home to one of Germany’s most digitalized office buildings, known as The Ship. Inspired by its success as a model of contemporary working, a second project is being added just next door: the Vorum.
Heralding a bright future in an innovative, exciting location, this robotics centre in Denmark designed by 3XN is expected to become the perfect place to work. It is a Cobot Hub for the employees at two companies. And also for the robots developed there.
Big tech can actually be avoided. The small Swiss company Infomaniak is taking on digital office tech giants like Zoom and Microsoft. Without any charges or advertising, it is offering videoconferencing that can also be used by inexperienced users.
In Istanbul the two spectacular towers for Ziraat Bank have grown high into the sky. While their shape is oriented on traditional calligraphy, the interior displays state-of-the-art technical features.
Inspired by traditional survival strategies of experienced miners, the architects at 3XN/GXN have “bred” a stylish canary that takes care of our health in the workplace.
As he was constantly on the move, technology entrepreneur Jeff Kleck was looking for a clever solution for a live-work space. His brilliant idea? To convert an old Airstream into what is probably the world’s best mobile smart office, which he calls “Kugelschiff”.
Automated machine communication is enabling new applications. In predictive maintenance, smart lifts indicate whether they are working or need attention.
You’ve seen smart homes, now it’s time for smart buildings. Cube Berlin, an office complex that controls itself via artificial intelligence, opened in early 2020.
Andreas Thamm is a “smart office” expert. As Chairman of the Management Board at UBM Development Germany, he is steering the company towards an intelligent future. It is an issue that is particularly relevant in times of COVID-19.
Architecture studio Foster + Partners have designed an extraordinary office tower for the heart of Buenos Aires. As a sustainable and flexible building, Avenida Cordoba 120 is set to provide more than just an optimum working environment. Its public space is intended to enhance the entire district.
The office complex ICÔNE has been created by the architects at Foster + Partners as an elegant answer to current working trends. This new flex office building is currently under construction in Luxembourg’s Belval Quarter, where urban renewal is set to create the city’s new “best address”.
The new showpiece unveiled by Swatch is not a watch, but office architecture at its finest. To create the reptilian curves of the new Swatch headquarters in Biel, star architect Shigeru Ban has built one of the world’s largest timber-framed constructions.
Internet giant Google wants to do more than provide the right answers every time on the digital front. With the construction of the new headquarters in Silicon Valley, it wants to supply the solution to every workplace problem. Specifically, it aims to revolutionize working environments completely!