Alibaba's brief required an understanding of an emerging private enterprise in China to establish the company's identity and position in a unique manner. Within the historically government controlled Chinese commercial environment, Alibaba has become one of the world's largest e-commerce businesses. Its positioning needed to support a progressive, innovative and international corporate culture while embracing Chinese qualities of respect, humility and history.
Based on concepts of connectivity, clarity and community, the built form and the designed ‘spaces between places' are integrated so that each defines the other. The grand central space is complemented by a series of intimate gardens that nurture the individual within the larger corporate community. The long, narrow floorplates help create a strong sense of place at a legible scale, and establish physical connection throughout the campus. Visual permeability -the ability to see into and across the major courtyards into other parts of the complex - is key to achieving the sense of community and connectivity.
The workplace is designed to encourage informal, creative meetings throughout the complex. Hubs, internal and external streets, bridges, roof terraces and strategically placed destination points contribute to the collaborative environment. Buildings, floorplates and the facade have been designed to maximise access to natural light and air flow to all workstations.
The Hangzhou context is embraced with garden networks and sunshading screens that represent Chinese ice-pattern window screens, a feature of the city's renowned historical gardens.