The height of innovation

Monday 27 Oct 2014

John Portman & Associates-designed Yinchuan Greenland Center named finalist in 2014 Be Inspired Awards

The John Portman & Associates-designed Yinchuan Greenland Center, a 300-metre super-tall mixed-use project, has been cited for Innovation in Building in the 2014 Be Inspired Awards. These awards recognise business and technical achievements, innovation and leadership in the field. The project, to be built in phases, is currently under construction in Yinchuan, China, with the first tower and the podium to be completed in 2017.

International architectural firm John Portman & Associates was selected by Greenland Group, a prominent Chinese real estate developer, to design the Greenland Yinchuan Super-Tall Project, a 306,000 sq m, two-tower mixed-use project located in the Yinchuan Yuehai Bay Central Business District (CBD) of China.

The project is intended to help invigorate local economic growth, facilitate the regional economic development and catapult the internationalisation of Yinchuan by attracting large multi-national companies and top financial institutions. The towers, which combine office, hotel and boutique retail spaces, will be the tallest in the northwestern region of China once completed. The first tower and the podium are currently under construction with expected completion in 2017. The second tower is to be completed in 2019.

The complex features parallelogram-plan geometry with rounded corners, which serves to distinguish the project's two elegant 301-metre-tall towers from the adjacent rectilinear towers seen in the city's Master Plan, which was developed by the local government. In a nod to the literal meaning of Yinchuan - silver river - the towers are linked by one, a podium building with a sinuous form. The tower forms take inspiration from shapes found in the unique calligraphy of the Chinese Hui - a script that fuses Chinese and Arabic.

Rotating the towers and placing them in relation to each other creates, from two very similar towers, a sculptural composition of one form, ever-evolving and changing from various vantage points. As Yinchuan is the capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the project's design draws inspiration from the Chinese Hui, whose culture offers a unique blend of Islamic and Chinese influences.

The design was chosen for its practicality as well as its skillful integration of the layout and urban space. Following the conclusion of the design competition, developer, Greenland Group, and architect, John Portman & Associates, added key consultants to the design team to continue the integrated design approach that resulted in the winning concept design.

The facades of the towers are fully glazed using high-performance, low emissivity glazing. However, each surface uses this glazing in a different way, dependent on the solar orientation of the tower. To the south and the west, the facade is distinguished with a horizontal blade sunshade system that allows floor-to-ceiling glazing to maximize natural light while also controlling solar gain. To the east and the north, the fully glazed façade consists of vision and patterned frit glass to offer similar daylight control, while also providing contrast to reinforce the tower shape and give an interesting modulation of views from the inside. The enclosure system is more than a simple wall. It transitions the interior/exterior relationship in a controllable way, offering the users the greatest comfort with the minimum of energy.

Design architects: John Portman & AssociatesClient: Greenland Group
Local design institute: China Architecture Design & Research Group (CAG) Beijing, P.R. China
Structural engineers: Halvorson and Partners
MEP/F/P engineers: Parsons Brinckerhoff
Curtain wall: ALT
Exterior Lighting: Fisher Marantz Stone
Façade maintenance: Lerch Bates
Wind tunnel testing: RWDI
Landscape: Aspect Studios


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