MVRDV shapes Shenzhen Terraces with stacked plateaus and green courts in China

The winning project of an international competition is designed as a multi-level urban living room with pebble-shaped terraces in the heart of Shenzhen’s Longgang district.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Mar 25, 2020

MVRDV reveals winning design of Shimao Shenkong International Centre as a multi-level urban living room in Universiade New Town of Shenzhen’s Longgang district. The project titled Shenzhen Terraces is designed by the Dutch firm in collaboration with Rotterdam and Milan-based landscape designers, Openfabric. It is located within the thriving university area, and at a meeting point surrounding various important facilities of the neighbourhood. 

Birds eye view of Shenzhen Terraces   | MVRDV | Shenzhen | STIRworld
Bird's eye view of Shenzhen Terraces Image Credit: © Atchain, Courtesy of MVRDV

A series of stacked plateaus merging with the existing landscape of the site foregrounds the conceptual intent of the project. Comprising 25-acre of the area, the centre presents itself as a new public space for the region, offering a seamless integration of landscape, leisure, commerce and cultural spaces. The design brings forth 20 programmes, which include a small gallery, a library, and an outdoor theatre.

Horizontal curves of the terraces create an inviting contrast with the vertical lines of the surrounding development | MVRDV | Shenzhen | STIRworld
Horizontal curves of the terraces create an inviting contrast with the vertical lines of the surrounding development Image Credit: © Atchain, Courtesy of MVRDV

The floating horizontal curves of the terraces create a beautiful contrast with the vertical strokes of the surrounding high-rise development.

An organic path traversing the second floor of every building creates a continuous route. MVRDV believes that these connections will help knit the project into its context, making it one with the city and offering access to all. 

  • The terraces expand and recede in organic arrangements | MVRDV | Shenzhen | STIRworld
    The terraces expand and recede in organic arrangements Image Credit: © Atchain, Courtesy of MVRDV
  • A continuous route bridging the buildings on the second floor | MVRDV | Shenzhen | STIRworld
    A continuous route bridging the buildings on the second floor Image Credit: © Atchain, Courtesy of MVRDV

The edges of the terraces dip to the floor level at certain points to form connections between the various storeys. These edges also double up as small outdoor auditoriums for people to sit together and enjoy views of the landscaped outdoors. In some places, the façade is pushed inwards to reveal entrances to the centre, which are designed as recognisable places to help visitors orient themselves within the centre.

The largest building in the proposal consists of a bus terminal, a conference centre, and an entrepreneurship centre among other mix-use facilities. The building wraps around a large open-air atrium at its centre.

Sustainability is a key aspect in the design. The organic forms of the buildings are carved in recycled concrete. Shaded terraces host planting beds and water features that reduce local temperature, whereas large overhangs cut direct sunlight and create pockets of tranquil spaces.

Complex interconnected terraces in the atrium space | MVRDV | Shenzhen | STIRworld
Complex interconnected terraces in the atrium space Image Credit: © Atchain, Courtesy of MVRDV

Shenzhen has developed so quickly since its origins in the 1970s. In cities like this, it is essential to carefully consider how public spaces and natural landscape can be integrated into the densifying cityscape,” says MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas.

“The urban living room of the Shimao ShenKong International Centre will be a wonderful example of this, and could become a model for the creation of key public spaces in New Town developments throughout Shenzhen. It aims to make an area that you want be outside, hang out and meet, even when it is hot – a literally cool space for the university,” he adds.

Shaded commercial deck overlooking the landscaped outdoors | MVRDV | Shenzhen | STIRworld
Shaded commercial deck overlooking the landscaped outdoors Image Credit: © Atchain, Courtesy of MVRDV

The landscape design by Openfabric studio reveals a pedestrian friendly outdoor. Pebble-shaped terraces are populated by organic patches of greenery that imitate sub-tropical forests of the region. These green zones turn into green lawns on the rooftops, giving visitors access the ladscape. Grassy hills, palm tree-filled plazas, reflective pools, and activity zones for outdoor games define other landscape features.  

With a cohesive arrangement of mix-used spaces, MVRDV’s vision of the Shenzhen Terraces aims to bring vitality and innovation to the context. The proposal by the Rotterdam-based firm was designed for Chinese real estate company Shimao Group and is selected from 27 entries by international design firms.

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