China boasts some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, and according to Emporis, the country is home to six out of the 10 tallest buildings in the world. The newest supertall addition to China’s skyline will be the Suzhou Zhongnan Center. At nearly 500-meters high, it will be the world’s tallest apartment tower by occupiable height when completed in 2026. With its ample open space and elevated sky gardens, this mixed-use high-rise tower represents a new paradigm for tall building design and the promise of vertical living.
Editor’s note: This post is part of our ongoing exploration of how design is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, the Chinese government called for a “new era” of architecture, banning cities from “blindly designing and building” towers taller than 500 meters (1,640 feet) and requiring new structures to be “practical, economical, ecological, and beautiful” with designs that “strengthen cultural confidence” and “highlight Chinese characteristics.” Tall building design in China is shifting in focus from height and iconic symbolism to people — the end users of the spaces. As practitioners with tall building design expertise, we aim to curate authentic experiences for the people who live, work, and play in these spaces.
With panoramic views of Jinji Lake, Suzhou old town, and neighboring skyscrapers of the central business district, Suzhou Zhongnan Center will become the anchor connecting the city’s past and future.
Inside-out design approach. Panoramic views of the apartment maximize the natural light intake and optimize the unit layouts, while the stepped and tapered massing create multiple corner visual opportunities.
A curated observation experience. At the top of the Suzhou Zhongnan Center will be the region’s highest 360-degree observation deck with unobstructed views of Suzhou’s historical towns, rivers, and lakes. The unique observation deck will not only provide views to the public, but will also function as a club and amenity zone for the residents. On display will be the 300 ton Tuned Mass Damper, which is custom designed for the tower, minimizing wind-induced movement and to achieve the highest level of comfort for supertall residential towers.
The Suzhou Zhongnan Center provides a platform for understanding how our priorities for the future of tall buildings are shifting to reconnect with the urban fabric, emphasize social connections, and create vertical communities.
This type of authentic design approach requires new levels of focus, as well as progressive thinking on the part of public and private stakeholders to achieve this vision.
As architects and designers, we remain optimistic about our ability to positively affect the future of cities and societies. We believe we can shape the future of vertical cities through the power of design.
As Co-Regional Managing Principal for the Greater China Region, Xiaomei closely oversees the growth and development of our Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong offices. Xiaomei has more than 20 years of experience and has directed projects of diverse and complex scale, from master planning and tall building architecture to corporate campus and workplace interiors. She is based in Shanghai. Contact her at Xiaomei_Lee@gensler.com.
Hasan A. Syed
As a design director in Gensler’s Shanghai office, Hasan promotes a culture of design exploration. With more than 20 years of experience in concept design and project development, Hasan has assembled a portfolio that includes the design and planning of large-scale office buildings, high-rise towers, mixed-use developments, hospitality facilities, and retail projects. Contact him at Hasan_Syed@gensler.com.
Article courtesy of Gensler