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BIG | Shenzhen International Energy Mansion

Concept & Competition SEM_Image by BIG_01

Modern Vernacular: The tropical climate of Shenzhen calls for a new approach to designing office buildings. How can we create comfortable working spaces in a tropical climate while reducing our energy consumption? The construction principle of the typical modern office tower is replicated all over the world. It has the advantage of a practical floor plan, and economical structural system.  But in tropical conditions the glazed curtain wall facades normally result in high energy consumption for air conditioning and poor views through coated windows. To achieve a comfortable working environment in these conditions an office building would especially need two things: Shading from direct exposure to sunlight, and dehumidification of interior air.

We are proposing a tower based on an efficient and well-proven floor plan, enclosed in a skin specifically modified and optimized for the local climate. We propose to enhance the sustainable performance of the building drastically by only focusing on its envelope, the façade.

Design evolution: The rippled walls of basalt rocks have evolved naturally from the geometric behavior of lava cooling at very slow speeds into vertical compounds of rocky columns.

The folded structure of a palm leaf has evolved by adapting to the requirements of the exterior environment. The folded ripples in the surface of the palm provide a light sheet of material with structural rigidity and flexibility. The chlorophylle exploits sunlight to create energy through photosynthesis. The vanes along the ripples channel water to the extremities of the structure.

The origami like structure of a paper lamp is designed inspired by the ingenuity observed in naturally evolved plants.

The traditional stepped landscapes of rice paddies have evolved by man adapting the natural landscape to meet their needs for inhabitation and food production.

In the same way the skyscraper has evolved as an economically efficient way to provide flexible, functional and well illuminated work spaces for dense populations of professionals. It has however evolved at a time when air conditioning and electric lighting were merely seen as modern solutions to modern demand, with no thought of the environmental consequences or energy shortage.

Today the skyscraper needs to evolve into a new sustainable species. It must retain its highly evolved qualities such as flexibility, daylight, view, density and general usability, while evolving new and untested attributes such as ways of combining maximum daylight exposure with minimal sunshine exposure or integrated ways of limiting the need for cooling.   We propose to make the Shenzhen Energy Mansion the first specimen of a new species of office buildings that exploit the buildings interface with the external elements – sun, daylight, air humidity, wind – as a source to create a maximum comfort and quality inside.

The Shenzhen Energy Mansion will appear as a subtle mutation of the classic skyscraper – a natural evolution rather than a desperate revolution.

Curtain wall:

1.The traditional curtain wall glass façade has a low insulation level and leaves the offices overheated by the direct sunlight. This results in excessive energy consumption for air conditioning as well as the need for heavy glass coating that makes the view seem permanently dull and grey.

2.By folding the façade in an origami like structure we achieve a structure with closed and open parts. The closed parts are providing a high-insulation façade, while blocking the direct sunlight. On the outside the closed parts are fitted with solar thermal heat panels that are powering the air conditioning and providing dehumidification for the working spaces.

3.The folded wall provides a free view through clear glass in one direction, and creates condition of plenty of diffused daylight by reflecting the direct sun between the interior panels.

4.Even when the sun comes directly from east or west, the main part of the solar rays are reflected off the glass due to the flat angle on the window. The reflected rays increase the efficiency of the solar thermal energy panels. The combination of minimal passive solar heating as well as active solar panels will reduce the building energy consumption with more than 60%.

Architect: BIG
Partner in charge: Bjarke Ingels
Project Leader: Andreas Klok Pedersen
Team: Cat Huang, Alex Cozma, Fan Zhang, Kuba Snopek, Flavien Menu, Stanley Lung

Project: Shenzhen International Energy Mansion
Type: Invited Competition, 1st Prize
Size: 96.000 M2
Client: Shenzhen Energy Company
Collaborators: Arup, Transsolar
Location: Shenzhen, China
Status: Ongoing

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