As he did with his Linked Hybrid towers in Beijing, Steven Holl—in his Shenzhen Horizontal Skyscraper—shows that he is the master of the large-scale, multi-use building. These projects transcend their generic description and are effectively new building types, as their metaphoric titles proclaim, in sharp and challenging contrast to the usual developer typologies. In Shenzhen, the large buildings hover above what is to be a lush tropical garden, freeing—to a remarkable degree—the ground-plane for public use. This concern for making open space for people to enjoy is a primary goal of Holl’s urban designs, and sets them apart. The architectural forms are straightforward, even modest by today’s flashy standards, but their presence on the landscape is extraordinary. In Shenzhen, it took some special engineering to make the long buildings span between a small number of vertical cores, creating a new type of public space, but Holl’s team achieved this, and within the developer’s budget. Now nearing completion, this project should become a model for others, not to be literally copied, but one that shows the decisive effect imagination and innovation can have. In a world where the number of large-scale commercial projects combining living and working spaces is certain to increase, and steadily, it offers inspiration, and hope that architecture can make a difference after all.



Site Plan_clean_BW

Ground Floor Plan CLEAN



Sections and Elevations


The landscaping plan projects a lush tropical, public garden:

080201 PLANT_INDEX.pdf


Credits (partial): Shenzhen Vanke Real Estate Company (client). Vanke Center, Shenzhen, China. Steven Holl Architects: Steven Holl, Li Hu (design); Li Hu (partner in charge). Associate Architects and Engineers: CCDI.

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