Project DescriptionShenzhen, China - Poised to become a catalyst of economic strength in Shenzhen, China, the area surrounding the Shenzhen North Railway Station (SN-SP) is experiencing explosive growth. As the transportation “heart” of Shenzhen, the station is the city’s point of access for High Speed Rail, local and long distance buses, subway trains, and taxicabs. SN-SP is an exceptional urban development opportunity being a site of connection to the surrounding community. With an exponential growth rate, this project requires well-planned design strategies that focus on transit-oriented design.
Directly adjacent to the Shenzhen Rail Station’s signature East Plaza, a new development, known as SN-SP Lot C2, is being designed by Chicago-based architecture firm JAHN and is the latest commission within an area that is set to become a new “city forum” for Shenzhen. The design for Lot C2 includes a retail podium and both north and south office towers and is centered on the idea of horizontality and connectivity and offers an opportunity to set a new standard for a community whose future will be greatly influenced by transit-oriented-design.
“SN-SP reinvents the mix-use model by substituting the traditional Tower-Podium concept with a vertical village and a small city. Together, they reinforce the strong horizontal and vertical forces of the site and program which creates an experience driven by people,” states Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, president and Chief of Design at JAHN, and co-founder of RAAD – the research and development arm of JAHN.
Creating Connections – The Small City
Because C2 is located within an important transitional zone between the railway station and key business districts to the east, pedestrian circulation patterns were critical to the design planning process. RAAD’s research of the existing and proposed conditions made it clear to the team that C2 should be planned to provide direct connectivity to the East Plaza. This connection was critical to develop, because the axial relationship between the East Plaza, a nearby park across Mintang Street, and the Shenzhen North Railway Station was already strongly established.
C2 is composed of linear blocks of retail and office that define paths, plazas, walkways, and atriums. The blocks respond to each other both vertically and horizontally while forming a grid as they stack. New spaces emerge within the intersections, creating endless possibilities for the community to grow. The podium is representative of the horizontal forces of nature – such as wind and water – and blend seamlessly with the East Plaza. The podium’s first layer is designed to capture the energy of Mintang Street through a very porous design. The second layer emphasizes the pedestrian connection to the East Plaza platform. The podium’s third layer creates a unique identity and experience for pedestrians and establishes connections to the East Plaza, rail station, and terraces.
The architecture of the north and south towers continues the layering concept in a customized fashion. Characterized by an orthogonal profile and reinforcing the horizontality of the C2 development, both towers are clearly defined by stacking volumes with unique characteristics. Vertical “sky communities” are created that give the towers and their individual parts a unique expression that responds to views, scale, materiality, orientation and, most of all, to each other.
The atriums reinforce the connecting element, enhancing communication within spaces and creating an office community. The atriums, in contrast to the rich character of the façade grids, provide a directional face for each block, reinforcing a stacking concept and creating interconnectivity within each of the stacking volumes.
Gonzalez-Pulido explains, “In SN-SP, the urban, environmental, technological, functional and experiential aspects define the Architecture.” Within the boundaries of the rail station’s zoning requirements, C2 gives rise to the unexpected and brings a sense of verticality to the community surrounding the rail station, creating a “sense of place” and elevating the development as a landmark within Shenzhen.