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Zaha Hadid Architects' Leeza Soho with the world's tallest atrium, opens in Beijing

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the skyscraper stands tall in China’s capital, a parametric design integrated with sustainable strategies.

by Jincy Iype Nov 21, 2019

The Leeza SOHO tower, designed by architectural giant Zaha Hadid Architects, opened in China earlier this week, boasting of the world’s tallest atrium winding within its form. Under construction on Lize Road in southwest Beijing since 2013, the building has 49 levels (45 above ground and 4 levels underground). The skyscraper anchors the new Fengtai business district, which is a growing financial and transport hub between the city centre and the recently opened Beijing Daxing International Airport to the south.

  • The Leeza SOHO tower is designed by architectural giant Zaha Hadid Architects | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The Leeza SOHO tower is designed by architectural giant Zaha Hadid Architects Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • The skyscraper is located on Lize Road in southwest Beijing, China | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The skyscraper is located on Lize Road in southwest Beijing, China Image Credit: Hufton+Crow

The 172,800 sqm tower aims to house small and medium-sized businesses in Beijing. Positioned as a flexible and efficient Grade A office space on a site adjacent to the business district's railway station, the structure straddles an underground subway service tunnel. Its position over this tunnel led the designers to split the building in two halves. The remaining expanse between these two volumes encompasses the full height of the structure, therefore creating the world’s tallest atrium at 194.15m. Leeza SOHO forms a spectacular civic space for Beijing, connecting to the city’s transport network directly.

02 min watch Leeza SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects - Concept | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
Leeza SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects - Concept Video Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

In typical Zaha Hadid fashion, the building is enveloped in a single, glazed façade shell, while the rotating atrium connects its two volumes in a dynamic pas de deux (a ballet dance duet), with interlinking skybridges on levels 13, 24, 35 and 45. The mammoth atrium also acts as a public square for the business district, interlinking the tower’s areas and providing altering views to the city beyond, as it twists and turns. The sculptural form’s skylight floods the building with natural light, acting as a thermal chimney with an integrated ventilation system. This helps maintain positive pressure at lower levels to limit air ingress, and also provides an effective method of filtering the air inside the tower.

  • The rotating atrium provides visual relief and views towards the city | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The tower’s facade Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • The tower’s facade | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The skyscraper is located in Lize Road in southwest Beijing, China Image Credit: Hufton+Crow

The concrete and steel tower is doubly insulated, with unitised glass curtain wall systems, helping draw air outside when needed. The public spaces of Leeza SOHO are shaded by its two halves, while the double-insulated low-e glazing effectively maintains a comfortable indoor setting in Beijing’s extreme weather conditions.

  • A skylight fills the insides of the tower with natural light | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    A skylight fills the insides of the tower with natural light Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • Inside Leeze SOHO tower | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Inside Leeze SOHO tower Image Credit: Hufton+Crow

Championing the 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM) design, construction management and building operations, ZHA and SOHO China have embraced technology that minimises consumption of energy and added emissions. The building has also been awarded the LEED Gold certification by the US Green Building Council, as its advanced management systems monitors real time controls for energy efficiency. These systems also involve heat recovery from exhaust air and high-efficiency pumps, fans, chillers, boilers, lighting and controls. The top of the tower has a helipad, and also features an insulating roof with solar panels which harvest solar energy. The building also comprises elements of collecting water, low-flow rate fixtures and grey water flushing.  

The concrete and steel tower is doubly insulated | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
The concrete and steel tower is doubly insulated Image Credit: Hufton+Crow

One of the most remarkable features of the skyscraper is that it fosters sustainable practises. The site has underground parking spaces for 2,680 bicycles, in addition to spaces for lockers, shower facilities and dedicated spaces for charging of electric and hybrid cars. Low volatile organic compound materials are installed throughout Leeza SOHO to reduce interior pollutants, while high efficiency filters remove particulates via the air-handling system.

  • Massing Strategy | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Massing Strategy Image Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Structure | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Structure Image Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Site Plan | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Site Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Layout Plan | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Layout Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • General Section | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    General Section Image Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Northeast and Southeast Elevations | Leeza SOHO Tower | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Northeast and Southeast Elevations Image Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Project Details

Name of the project: Leeze SOHO
Location: Beijing, China
Site area: 14.365 sqm
Gross floor area: 124 sqm overground, 48.8 sqm underground
Year: 2013 - 2019
Client: SOHO China Limited
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)
Executive Architect: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design
Design: Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher
Project Director: Satoshi Ohashi
Project Architect: Philipp Ostermaier
Project Associates: Kaloyan Erevinov, Ed Gaskin, Armando Solano
Project Team: Yang Jingwen, Di Ding, Xuexin Duan, Samson Lee, Shu Hashimoto, Christoph Klemmt, Juan Liu, Dennis Brezina, Rita Lee, Seungho Yeo, Yuan Feng, Zheng Xu, Felix Amiss, Lida Zhang, Qi Cao
Structure: Bollinger + Grohmann (Stage 0,1); China Academy of Building Research (Stage 2); Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (Stage 3,4)
Facade: Konstruct West Partners (Stage 2); Kighton Facade (Stage 3,4); Yuanda (Stage 3,4)
MEP: Parsons Brinkerhoff (Stage 2); Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (Stage 3,4)
Lighting: J+B Studios Architectural Design (Stage 2); Light Design (Stage 2,3); Leuchte (Stage 4)
Landscape: Zaha Hadid Architects (Stage 2,3); Ecoland (Stage 4)
Interiors: Zaha Hadid Architects (Stage 2,3); HuaTeng (China) (Stage 4)

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About Author

Jincy Iype

Jincy Iype

Iype is a trained architect, who often indulges in writing and amateur photography. She was a cinephile and a melophile even before she knew what those words meant. She is inclined towards architecture journalism, and can usually be found curled up reading a book, or cooking for therapeutic relief.

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