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SOM unveils cloud-like user-controlled headquarters for technology company Alibaba in Shanghai
China Architecture News - Aug 03, 2022 - 17:04 1446 views
Resembling "a cloud", the scheme, made of interconnected cubic volumes, symbolizes both Alibaba’s extraordinary digital presence in the Cloud and the technology industry’s shifting skies of innovation.
Founded in 1999, Alibaba is a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in e-commerce, cloud computing services, digital media, entertainment and innovation.
The 75,000-square-metre headquarters will accommodate the rapid expansion of Alibaba’s multinational team with high-quality design features. The building prioritizes flexibility and healthy working habits for their employees.
The building greatly expands Alibaba's Shanghai campus, and is located adjacent to a public-facing building for offices and programming.
Upon completion, the building will have indoor-outdoor workspaces that support hybrid work and dynamic and collaborative team structures.
Office spaces are supported by smart technology infrastructure and biophilic design features, aiming to enhance employee wellness, including natural ventilation, terraces, and green roofs.
The building is based on a distinctive, modular design to become highly efficient and flexible over time, allowing for expansive long-span spaces and a variety of enclosed areas for a diversity of workstation layouts as teams ebb and flow.
"The only constant is change’ is one of Alibaba’s guiding principles," said SOM Design Partner Scott Duncan.
"We took this ethos to heart, designing a workplace capable of evolving and adapting to new needs, teams, and technologies over time. The headquarters is designed in dialogue with the existing campus, inverting the neighboring building as it unfolds across cantilevered masses and staggered, green terraces," Duncan added.
At the center of the cloud, there is an interior courtyard that becomes a central location for programming and teaming.
Along the exterior perimeter, collaborative work and gathering spaces seamlessly extend onto outdoor terraces, providing classmates with access to nature, fresh air, and views of the Huangpu River, which weaves its way through the heart of the city.
An optimized, long-span structure enables column-free interior space for ultimate flexibility as teams expand, contract, and overlap.
The SOM team also designs “collaboration bridges” and communicating stairs that create places for smaller-scale exchange and connections between individual team members.
The facade of the building is aimed to provide high-performance to redirect up to 40 per cent of solar heat gain and minimize glare and wind tunnels for occupants on the terraces.
As SOM emphasized, the building is planned to be naturally ventilated, with smart systems that cycle fresh air and reduce cooling needs in Shanghai’s sub-tropical climate.
Temperature moderation is further enabled with an AI-controlled shading system that responds to the sun’s movement and mitigates solar heat gain, further improving the building’s performance. At the top of the building, roof gardens will harvest rainwater.
Designed to exceed the requirements for LEED v4 and China Green Star, the new headquarters is targeting both low embodied and operational carbon.
Three dimensional section
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is a collective of architects, designers, engineers, and planners working together to build a better future.
Originally founded in Chicago in 1936, SOM is responsible for some of the world’s most technically and environmentally advanced buildings and significant urban spaces and the practice is constantly innovating new ways of living, working and learning to bring lasting value to the built environment.
SOM recently completed 800 Fulton Market, a 19-story building is described as "Chicago’s Smartest Building" expanding the ways of working in the office spaces. The firm is currently working on the renovation of the iconic modernist office building Lever House in New York.
The firm completed a bank’s new headquarters enclosed by an external diagrid in Shenzhen, China.
All images courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
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