700m-long groundscraper wins competition for Shenzhen design campus

French architect Dominique Perrault Architecture and Chinese firm Zhubo Design, together with UK consulting engineer BuroHappold, have won a competition to design a university campus for the city of Shenzhen southeast China.

The client is Shenzhen municipality’s Bureau of Public World, which describes the scheme as a demonstration project for "socialism with Chinese characteristics", adding that it is "expected to deliver well-trained creative and design professionals to meet the urgent human resources needs in the city of Shenzhen and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area".

The design fits most of the Shenzhen Institute of Design and Innovation into a 120m-wide, 708m-long "groundscraper", and uses the flat roof space created for parks and sports grounds.

This approach took its cue from the Chinese character "yi", a straight line signifying "one". To mimic this, the building is raised on stilts, so it appears to float above the ground.

SUSTech aims to attract international talent, and its location is convenient for a number of airports (Bureau Public Works of Shenzhen Municipality)

The architect says this leads to a simple and intuitive organisation of the campus’ functions and departments, and ensures a massive amount of space is available in which to do it, with large openings to avoid the gloom problem of deep-plan buildings.  

There will also be a library, an auditorium and exhibition halls contained within dome-like structures, and three villages of student housing.

The campus is part of a larger project to build the Southern University of Science and Technology, or SUSTech, which will accommodate over 4,000 students. The university is seen by the Chinese authorities as an experiment with higher education reform, and aims to attract researchers from around the world.

SUSTech’s 2-sq-km site is located in the Nanshan district in the northwest of the city, which also houses the Shenzhen High-Tech Industrial Park.

PWP of California is the landscape architect for the creative design campus.

Image: The campus’ main building will appear to float over the ground (Dominique Perrault Architecture/Fancy Digital Technology)

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