by Almas SadiqueAug 31, 2023
Bjarke Ingels Group has designed new R&D headquarters in Hangzhou for Chinese consumer electronics and mobile communications giant, Oppo. Imagined as a fluid, looping O-shaped courtyard tower that almost resembles a glimmering Mobius strip, the building delivers an impressive architectural statement that reflects Oppo's core values of striving towards sustainability and aiming for perfection to contribute to a better world. As an anchoring landmark along a major road that stretches from east to west in the city, the Danish firm intends for O-tower to become an icon of Hangzhou and a gateway to its Future Sci-Tech City development.
Oppo has grown at a startling pace since its founding in 2004 to become China's current largest smartphone company. As a testament to the company's ethos of “endless innovation in the pursuit of perfection”, O-Tower is settled between a natural lake, an urban centre, and a 10,000 sqm park within its surrounding context of Future Sci-Tech City at the heart of Yuhang District.
In Hangzhou, Oppo has a setting rich in cultural and historical value, shaped by technology, trade, and information exchange for over 5,000 years, through its role as one of the points of origin for both the ancient Silk Route and Grand Canal. Home to three of China’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the city is a prominent tourist attraction colloquially known as 'Heaven on Earth’.
Copenhagen-based Bjarke Ingels Group commenced work on the research and development office and local urban masterplan back in 2019. Throughout the design process, they sought to optimise workspaces and energy efficiency by maximising daylight. For this purpose, the Danish firm pushed the building's southern edge downwards to provide unhindered exterior views and permit higher levels of solar illumination indoors.
The resultant visually striking looped form, centered on a courtyard enclosed by the structure's rising cylindrical massing, embraces Oppo's endeavour to elevate life through 'technical artistry’. Its unique geometry is a self-shading adaptation of BIG's 'courtscraper' concept and a reference to the organisation's name branding. Additionally, the facade's glazed skin, screened by a system of adaptive louvres arranged in accordance with sun angles, reduces solar gain by up to half its original value while restricting glare, light pollution, and energy consumption.
At the ground level, the tower's programme revolves around the central courtyard that expands into the waterfront through lush, landscaped areas while ushering visitors towards interlinked lobbies, exhibition spaces, or directly into the nearby park.
A spectacular view of the Hangzhou sky reveals itself through an oculus-like opening in the tower’s shell framed by its cylindrical form ascending around the courtyard’s periphery. This zone obscures the barriers between public and private space and provides a distinct urban recreational area, visually integrated into the building's lower levels.
The first three levels are set aside for public programming, with conference centres, exhibition spaces, a canteen, and an incubator for external workshops. Floor plates vary according to the facade profiles of the tower's various sections and their functional programming. Middle floors will have flexible floor plates ranging from larger ones for Oppo's R&D departments and special projects to smaller, conventionally-sized versions for administrative and executive zones.
Triple-height voids and linked terraces under the sloped ceilings of the O-ring provide visual connectivity between levels, with biophilic interior design elements periodically interspersed. Higher floors host a dedicated Oppo canteen along with VIP lounges that furnish panoramic views of the nearby wetlands.
BIG is currently also engaged in designing an AI City masterplan for Terminus Group in Chongqing, China and Toyota’s Woven City Development in Japan while collaborating with ICON and Search+ to develop 3D printed homes on the Moon under Project Olympus.
Name: OPPO R&D Headquarters
Location: Hangzhou, China
Size: 161330 sq. m.
Type: Office, Retail and Masterplan
(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)