Jaeger and Partner design for the Shenzhen Archive Towers recently received a Design Excellence Award in the AIA Chicago 2011 Design Awards programme. This competition scheme was acknowledged in the Unbuilt Design Award category in a contest run by Shenzhen Archives Bureau.
Shenzhen’s Meiling District resides between the City Center and new north railway station, forming an urban centre with the Archive site at its heart. Creating an authentic urban space, the design unifies four parcels (city blocks) by removing dividing streets. Circulation is reorganised, thereby harnessed, by introducing a perimeter one-way street system. The enlarged spatial boundary establishes an appropriate scale and symbolic relationship with the City Plaza.
Defining the Archive precinct, a continuous floating perimetre block embraces four discrete volumes: three towers and a cube. This framework defines an internal landscape - an escape from city into garden. Circular green zones denote building entries inviting traversing pedestrians. Public functions, exhibition spaces and select retail reside under the permeable perimeter, encouraging through circulation and urban interface. Discrete functional elements establish a new internal urban realm within the frame.
A carefully positioned cube contains public functions, exhibition hall, conferencing and archival information centre. Inspired by traditional forms, three shimmering archival towers embody abstracted pagoda characteristics, symbolically protecting archive documents within.
The ‘pagoda’ towers vary in height and façade treatment creating individual identity expressing that different archives are internally stored. Shaped apertures strategically populate the double façade, protecting valuable contents, while creating an energy efficient envelope. The 91,930 sq m project engenders a communicative quality, setting the Archive in dialogue with the surroundings.