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Brownfield Project Moves Forward in China

Aerial view rendering of the Skyworth Gongming complex planned for Shenzhen, China
The project includes a series of three towers, gently curved on two sides. An iconic 250 m tower is positioned strategically on the main thoroughfare. A 100 m tower will be in the center, flanked on the other side by a 150 m tower. © Skyworth, designed by Atkins

An intricate landmark centerpiece for a new business district in Shenzhen is moving quickly from the design phase to construction.

March 26, 2013—Design work continues on the Skyworth Gongming complex planned for Shenzhen, China. The project is an ambitious redevelopment of a brownfield site formerly occupied by a large television manufacturing facility.

Skyworth, the largest television manufacturer in China, held an international design competition in May 2012 for the project—three blocks of mixed use structures that will become a new central business district (CBD) for the area. Atkins, headquartered in Epsom, Surrey, United Kingdom, won the competition in late 2012.

The design that Atkins developed for the project includes a series of three towers, gently curved on two sides to herald the advent of the new CBD. The iconic 250 m tower is positioned strategically on the main thoroughfare. A 100 m tower will be in the middle of the three, flanked on the other side by a 150 m tower. The tallest tower will contain Skyworth’s corporate headquarters and a hotel. The three towers will combine to offer 302,000 sq m of floor space for development.

This block of the complex will also contain a five-story shopping mall and a three-story commercial complex with street access for restaurants and retail businesses. The development will be surrounded by new residential towers, designed locally. Combined, those structures will provide 61,000 sq m of space. 

 Ground level view rendering for a couple of the building in the Skyworth Gongming complex

 The development will include a shopping mall, complete with a
trellised roof garden that reduces the heat load for the building
and adds much-needed green space for residents.  © Skyworth,
designed by Atkins

“Our vision is a sustainable brownfield redevelopment and a soaring form reaching the sky,” said K.Y. Cheung, AIA, Atkins’ senior design director in China, in written comments to Civil Engineering online. “The site faces the new light-rail, which will bisect the new central business district. Visually the project proposes an active and iconic image along this major transit route.”

Cheung said the team is in the process of determining the best method for constructing a complex with three large towers in such close proximity tone another. Although geotechnical conditions at the site are considered to be favorable, the foundations for the multifaceted development on a tight site present a challenge.

“We have been discussing the pros and cons of separating the tall towers in a later phase or constructing all—or at least the entire basement—at once in order to consider basement movement and differential subsiding with or without the towers in place,” Cheung said.

Although the project is still in the early design stages, the team is developing a structural system that will feature external columns and beam frames with core walls to resist horizontal forces.  

The façade, also in the early design stages, will likely employ horizontal sunscreens on the south side of the towers and vertical fins on the east and west sides to reduce glare and solar gain and showcase the sustainability features of the project.

 Rendering of the tallest tower in the Skyworth Gongming complex

 The tallest tower will house a hotel and the corporate offices of
Skyworth, the largest television manufacturer in China.
© Skyworth, designed by Atkins

“The vertical fins will showcase our passive energy approach as a major determinant of the exterior iconic imagery of a soaring form reaching for the sky,” Cheung said.

Another sustainability element under consideration by the design team is green roofs. These rooftop green spaces will serve as gardens for the residents in the residential blocks. The green spaces will be lit at night, creating the effect of a lantern in the night sky. By day, the gardens will afford dramatic, panoramic views of the surrounding city. Furthermore the trellised roof garden on the mall not only reduces the heat load for the building below but will also add a much needed quiet green space in which residents can relax in the busy downtown area.

“Brownfield site regeneration is a very important approach in the development of existing cities with hardly any empty sites available,” said Cheung, in a press release announcing Atkins selection in the design competition.

“Unlike newly built cities, it is complex as it involves smart urban planning within the existing system, transport planning, architecture and landscape design, as well as environmental issues. This project is an excellent example of Atkins’ combined technical expertise in responding to the challenges in China, particularly as the country is developing at such a high speed,” Cheung said.

The project is, indeed, an example of China’s high-speed development. The project was in the conceptual stage in late 2012 and construction is expected to begin in late 2013.


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