Tencent Crystal City

Shenzhen/ China

Size/ 2,642,160 m²
Competition/ 2018, International competition
Status/ Design proposal
Client/ Tencent
Developer/ Tencent
Structural Engineer/ Schlaich Bergermann Partner (sbp)
Landscape Architect/ SLA
Other collaborators/ Shanghai Urban Transportation Design Institute
Visuals/ Beauty and THE BIT

Tencent Crystal City is an ambitious vision for Qianhai, a district situated at the threshold of Hong Kong and mainland China. The area occupies a position of strategic significance in the Pearl River Delta, and is driven by Tencent, one of the world’s largest internet companies. The project is a harmonious combination of nature, community, and technology spread over 2.6 million square meters for Tencent’s employees. It comprises dynamic workspace, a residential complex, a convention center, a hotel, and supporting facilities for education, health, sports, and infrastructure.

The design proposal is a departure from typical urban planning typologies. A series of pyramidal, crystal-like structures provide a flexible program in between functions, which include both large scale floor plans and smaller, more intimate spaces for gathering and interaction.

The crystalline shapes of the campus seek to create an iconic focal point for the entire district, and a new symbol for Qianhai. The complex’ multi-functional design reflects the values behind Tencent; a company with an array of different divisions working together to create global impact.

Tencent Crystal City aims to become an extension of the grand public ring around Qianhai Bay and a new distinctive ‘face’ for Shenzhen towards the sea. A rich wetlands park is designed to connect directly with an entirely public level that will become a new landmark in this rapidly growing area. Qianhai will eventually have a staggering 1.5 million inhabitants.

Generous green spaces are designed on either side of the buildings in order to provide a buffer from the neighboring container port and to offer active waterfront public spaces.

The campus will exist at the intersection of nature, community, and technology. The district will be an enormous testing ground for a new Tencent lifestyle that combines smart passive strategies in the urban landscape and active technologies to create new communities.

Tencent can use the connection to public areas to exhibit and test new initiatives and products. In contrast to the closed nature of many tech headquarters, the raised buildings offer privacy for employees while turning the landscape below into a public destination.

Auto traffic will be limited to outer areas and people will travel to their final destination by biking or walking whenever possible. In this way, nature and people are at the centre of the campus.

This ambitious and visionary development for the fast-growing tech company Tencent is designed to be as flexible as possible, accommodating future changes in the company’s strategic needs.

The waterfront park will return the coastline to the mangrove-filled wetlands that existed before Shenzhen’s urbanization in an effort to help clean the bay’s water. New landscape features such as sports fields and green amphitheaters combine functionality and beauty as well as create microclimates to mitigate the tropical environment of the city. The extensive landscape and wetlands park will also help to manage rainwater and protect the campus in stormy conditions.

The project offers large, tall, open floorplates that are highly reconfigurable. Space under the landscape deck is also adaptable to future changes, even after construction, as forces such as automated driving threaten to change the way cars are used and parked.

The new campus will not force people by regulations to walk or bike but simply make healthy sustainable transit the best choice by using microclimates and smart circulation strategy.

The campus is planned from the start to cultivate mental and physical health for employees and residents. Healthy transport options such as shared bikes and walking are promoted over auto use by providing a large shaded podium and pathways lush with nature. A multitude of sports courts and connections to the bay encourage an active balance of recreation and work to retain an engaged happy community of professionals.

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