Connecting Industries Worldwide

Henning Larsen to create new city centre for Shenzhen

Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City is poised to become the lightning rod for development in Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area, the largest bay economy in the world.

The area boasts a population of 70 million people and includes other metropolises such as Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Macau. Often called China’s Silicon Valley, Shenzhen is home to a cohort of innovative tech giants such as Tencent, Huawei and ZTE.

To establish Shenzhen as the Heart of The Greater Bay Area and cement its position as the leading innovation centre of China, Henning Larsen envisioned an ambitious Masterplan that shifts paradigms of Chinese urban planning and sets the standard for the Green, Sustainable and Liveable city of Future China.

The existing business districts of Shenzhen were developed kilometres away from the seafront. The location of Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City offers a unique opportunity to repair a historic missed link between city and sea.

“Our design aims to make Shenzhen the waterfront city it should always have been,” said Claude Godefroy, Partner and Design Director of Henning Larsen’s Hong Kong office.

“To create an attractive waterfront we brought commercial and cultural facilities meters away from the seashore, so citizens will finally be able to enjoy the atmosphere of Shenzhen Bay in an activated urban environment, like in Sydney, Singapore or Copenhagen.”

Chinese planning authorities have prioritised vehicular traffic for decades, resulting in poor conditions for pedestrians in many Chinese cities, Shenzhen in particular.

Henning Larsen’s design aims to create a pedestrian urban realm; cars are relegated to an extensive underground network of highways, roads, and parking.

“Most of the commuters’ cars will never surface in the district. This will change everything for the quality of the pedestrian experience and will be quite unique in China,” Mr Godefroy adds.

The pedestrian experience is central to any of Henning Larsen’s designs, and in this masterplan, the experience is considered holistically.

For instance, all the basement levels of the district are interconnected in a network of retail arcades and sunken plazas, replacing the need for outsized shopping malls above ground.

“Shopping malls act as black holes in the city, sucking all the life away from the public realm. We want to rebalance the dominating commercial activities of the city with more civic and culturally oriented activities in the urban realm.”

In lieu of the massive shopping malls traditionally sitting beneath the tall buildings, Henning Larsen proposes a porous urban fabric composed of smaller buildings sitting in between the towers. At eye level, this urban typology offers a human scale with narrow alleys and small piazzas.

The porous urban fabric also allows effective urban ventilation by making use of the sea breeze, which can contribute to cool the district significantly in the punishing heatwaves of the summer. Other measures to cool the district include 10.000 trees, roof gardens, and whitewashed streets.

“The success of this district depends largely on our capacity to reduce the heat in the public realm, especially when considering climate change,” Mr Godefroy explained.

“We know by experience that our initiatives can reduce the heat within the district by 5-8 degrees compared to the surrounding city. The added comfort level will encourage citizens to use the public realm.”