In southeastern Shenzhen, Beijing-based architecture firm Clou Architects has completed Shenzhen Shuiwan 1979 Life Plaza, a mixed-use development interwoven with green terraces and a “secret garden” to provide visitors respite from the hustle and bustle of the tech megacity. The project, which was completed in 2016, takes inspiration for its name from the 1979 announcement by Deng Xiaoping — the country’s paramount leader prior to Xi Jinping — to reform and open up China, starting with the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in the area of Shekou. The 220-meter-tall complex also draws influences from the lush, mountainous surroundings with its inclusion of elevated green spaces and public areas.

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Set between tree-lined streets with a direct connection to the Shuiwan subway station in Shekou, the Shenzhen Shuiwan 1979 Life Plaza combines a residential and office tower of 107,000 square meters with a three-story retail podium of 36,000 square meters. To give the skyscraper a more human scale and to pay homage to the diverse Shekou area, the architects designed the tower as a series of interlocking small boxes stacked together. Landscaped public spaces are placed throughout the building, including a floating “secret garden” with panoramic views of Shenzhen.

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tall tower with rows of windows on each floor

“The clear and concise façade texture of the office floor portrays the overall image of the project, delivering a landmark identity in the area,” the architects said. “The podium contains ample commercial retail space, and the commercial space of the plaza has a large atrium which runs through three levels of retail space. Due to its close proximity to river and mountain, Shuiwan 1979 becomes a building that interacts with the city.”

trees around a skyscraper

Clou Architects further engaged the public realm on the street level with a landscaped public park that wraps around the southeast side of the 220-meter tower.

+ Clou Architects

Images via Shining Laboratory