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Vanke Center, Shenzhen, China, 2006 - 2009

Hovering over a tropical garden, this ‘horizontal skyscraper’ –as long as the Empire State Building is tall - is a hybrid building including apartments, a hotel, and offices for the headquarters for China Vanke Co. ltd. A conference center, spa and parking are located under the large green, tropical landscape which is characterized by mounds containing restaurants and a 500 seat auditorium.

The building appears as if it were once floating on a higher sea that has now subsided; leaving the structure propped up high on eight legs. The decision to float one large structure right under the 35-meter height limit, instead of several smaller structures each catering to a specific program, generates the largest possible green space open to the public on the ground level.

Suspended on eight cores, as far as 50 meters apart, the building’s structure is a combination of cable-stay bridge technology merged with a high-strength concrete frame. The first structure of its type, it has tension cables carrying a record load of 3, 280 tons.

The underside of the floating structure becomes its main elevation –the sixth elevation – from which ‘Shenzhen Windows’, offer 360-degree views over the lush tropical landscape below. A public path beginning at the “dragon’s head” will connect through the hotel and the apartment zones up to the office wings.

As a tropical strategy, the building and the landscape integrate several new sustainable aspects. A micro-climate is created by cooling ponds fed by a greywater system. The building has a green roof with solar panels and uses local materials such as bamboo. The glass faced of the building will be protected against the sun and wind by porous louvers. The building is a Tsunami-proof hovering architecture that creates a porous micro-climate of public open landscape. It is one of the first LEED platinum rated buildings in Southern China.


2006 - 2009
Shenzhen, China
Shenzhen Vanke Real Estate Co. LTD


Design Architects:
Steven Holl
Li Hu
Iwan Baan
Shu He
Steven Holl Architects


Associate Architects: