SOM escapes mediocrity with skyscraper in Beijing’s Dawangjing

BEIJING – A new business district has been raised from the ground in China. Another one. Dawangjing business district is strategically well located in equal distance from airport and city centre, and conveniently close to the novel 798 Arts District. By turning formerly residential areas into commercial spaces, the city hopes to attract international shopping and hotel companies in its bid to create new business and recreational centres. For the close-by suburb of Dongwa, which is being turned into a business hub in the same way as Dawangjing, the government offered cash prizes as high as 100,000 euro for successful planning submissions by international architects in the year 2010.

Into this desperate climate of fast-paced urbanisation, architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has placed several towers. One of them is the Beijing Greenland Centre, a 260-m-tall and 55-storey-high mixed-use development. The term mixed-use is not being used to its most creative extent here, as what the building offers is the standardised triptych of serviced apartments, office space and retail units. Further, the design of the structure aims to achieve a 30 per cent decrease of energy and water consumption, which can be understood as a friendly gesture but does not quite account for true environmental responsibility.

Ultimately, is seems like the skyscraper only just escapes mediocrity due to its aesthetic value. The striking façade is made from trapezoidal modules which function as prims, catching daylight and reflecting it back, thereby creating a colourful interplay of light. It is pretty.

Photos LV Hengzhong

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