Shenzhen International Energy Mansion | BIG | Architecture

BIG to Design Shenzhen International Energy Mansion

Copenhagen-based BIG, in collaboration with ARUP and Transsolar, was awarded the first prize in the international competition to design Shenzhen International Energy Mansion, the regional headquarters for the Shenzhen Energy Company.

Shenzhen International Energy Mansion by BIG

Located in the center of Shenzhen, China the 96,000 square meter project will be integrated with the surrounding environment and designed to withstand the tropical climate of the city. BIG’s winning proposal was selected by the jury experts from Shenzhen Municipal Planning Bureau chaired by Alejandro Zaera-Polo and client representatives.

Shenzhen International Energy Mansion by BIG

The headquarters rises 200 meters creating a new landmark visible from the highway in the cultural, political and business center of Shenzhen. BIG envisions combining a practical and efficient floor plan layout with a sustainable façade that both, passively and actively reduce the energy consumption of the building. The façade is conceived as a folded skin that shades the office complex from direct sunlight and integrates solar thermal panels, reducing the overall energy consumption of the building.

Shenzhen International Energy Mansion by BIG

Shenzhen International Energy Mansion by BIG

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.
Shenzhen International Energy Mansion by BIG
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 chlorophyll 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.
Shenzhen International Energy Mansion by BIG
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.

Shenzhen International Energy Mansion by BIG

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.


Type: Invited Competition, 1st Prize
Size: 96,000 sqm
Client: Shenzhen Energy Company
Location: Shenzhen, China

Credit List

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