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China's Essence Financial Building ditches traditional form for better function


February 8, 2013

The Essence Financial Building in Shenzhen will have no exterior walls in its middle floor...

The Essence Financial Building in Shenzhen will have no exterior walls in its middle floor, to create a large viewing deck, and the elevators will be located on the side instead of the center to allow for more creative office designs

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Dutch architectural firm OMA recently won a design competition for the Essence Financial Building in Shenzhen, China, with a concept that abandons western conventions for more contemporary ideas. Among other attributes, the plans call for shifting the elevators to the side instead of the center to allow for more creative office designs, and removing the exterior walls from the middle floor to create a large skydeck.

Traditionally, large office structures have elevators and high traffic areas located in the center, with offices built around them. Though this does allow workers to reach the elevators more quickly, it means that all offices have to be designed around them, which restricts more productive floorplans from being applied. OMA hopes to solve this issue by limiting all elevators to one side of the building, leaving the whole floor to be arranged however the owners see fit.

Once completed, the Essence Financial Building will stand at 180 meters (590.6 feet) tall – not including a subterranean parking structure – and hold 64,550 square meters (694,810 sq ft) of office space and 5,450 square meters (58,663 sq ft) of commercial space. The bottom portion, the podium, will be a little wider than the rest of the tower and will house the lobby along with some commercial shops and restaurants. The middle section will have mostly offices for lease, while the slightly wider upper section will contain the offices of the Essence Securities Co., Ltd. – one of the clients for the project – with a club house on the top floor.

The building's most noticeable feature will be a large open skydeck right in the middle, w...

OMA has also designed the building with windows strategically sized and placed to receive a proper amount of sunlight throughout the day. The east and west-facing sides have narrower windows to prevent too much light hitting them directly, while the north and south sides have a mix of large and small windows, depending on where the light shines on them the most – each side has its own unique pattern.

The building's most noticeable feature, however, will be a large open skydeck right in the middle, which has no walls aside from the elevators. The floor-sized viewing platform will provide a shaded outdoor area that overlooks the Shenzhen Golf Club, and help the building stand out amidst the city's skyline.

The building's most noticeable feature will be a large open skydeck right in the middle, w...

OMA hopes that breaking with western traditions in building structure will accommodate the Chinese workforce more efficiently. This is actually the second building in Shenzhen conceived by OMA; the first, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, was proposed in 2006 and will be completed in April of this year. The Essence Financial Building is still in the planning stages, so there's no word on when it will be constructed, but it's sure to make a distinctive mark on the city once it's finished.

Source: OMA

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher

I like the design however there are numerous reasons why stairwells and elevators are usually centralized.

Jon Smith
8th February, 2013 @ 10:52 am PST

Here's a picture of the library at the University of California San Diego (U.C.S.D) -- my alma mater. The Chinese are copying us again....


8th February, 2013 @ 11:47 am PST

I hope the test the design in a wind tunnel. A building was designed in New York NY that had the building sitting on pillars to leave the pedestrian traffic through the lot unaffected but under normal conditions the building would have generated hurricane force winds going under it. this feature was deleted in the final design.

8th February, 2013 @ 01:43 pm PST

Besides stairwells and elevators, things like mechnical systems (HVAC, plumbing, electrial) benefit from central location. It is mostly a cost decision, rather than life safety code requirements. I find it hard to believe that creative office layouts are compromised by a central core, unless you want to install bowling alleys or go-kart tracks.

Bruce H. Anderson
11th February, 2013 @ 08:54 am PST

It is an impressive building. The net merits or demerits will be found out by owners and users, but the look is new and that matters greatly in architecture.

Marvin McConoughey
11th February, 2013 @ 09:47 am PST
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