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BIG wins design competition for Energy Mansion in China

September 8, 2009

BIG’s ‘folded façade’ concept for Shenzhen Energy Company HQ wins first prize in international design competition.

Danish architecture firm BIG, in collaboration with ARUP and Transsolar, has been awarded first prize in an international competition to design the Shenzhen International Energy Mansion, the headquarters of the Shenzhen Energy Company.

The competition, which aimed to find a sustainable and efficient solution for the headquarters, was judged by Shenzhen Municipal Planning Bureau experts, and chaired by Alejandro Zaera-Polo, from Foreign Office Architects, and client representatives.

Located in the centre of Shenzhen, the 96,000 sqm project is designed to withstand the humid climate of the city. With a height of 200 metres, BIG’s concept for the building combines a practical and efficient floor plan with a sustainable façade to reduce the energy consumption of the building. Conceived as a ‘folded skin’, the façade would shade the office from direct sunlight and have embedded solar panels to provide the building with a source of renewable energy.

The firm wanted to find a way to make the skyscraper more energy efficient. Bjarke Ingels, founding partner of BIG, explained: “We propose to make the Shenzhen Energy Mansion the first specimen of a new species of office buildings that exploits the buildings interface with the external elements – sun, daylight, humidity, wind – as a source to create maximum comfort and quality inside. The Shenzhen Energy Mansion will appear as a subtle mutation of the classic skyscraper – a natural evolution rather than a desperate revolution.”

By creating a ’folded’ façade, the building would have open and closed parts. The closed parts would block direct sunlight and trap solar energy to power the air conditioning system inside the building. The folded areas would allow for good views through clear glass, providing plenty of natural light into the interior, while still reflecting solar rays from the flat angle of the windows.

BIG have estimated that the use of solar-powered air conditioning and reduced heat from direct sunlight could reduce the energy consumption of the building by more than 60%. Project Leader Andreas Klok Pedersen stated, “The towers are based on an efficient and well-proven floor plan enclosed in a skin specifically modified and optimized for the local climate. By focusing on the envelope, the façade, we are able to enhance the sustainable performance of the building drastically.”

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