In 2011, Maki and Associates was invited by China Merchants Property Development (CMPD), one of the most revered Chinese real estate companies, to undertake our first project in China. Our mission was to design the first cultural facility within the Sea World’s multi-use development that serves as a dignified house of art and culture for Shenzhen and greater China.
The building form follows a two-part composition: a podium and a pavilion. The sculptural podium, clad in white and green granite, houses the museum and retail functions. The pavilion consists of three cantilevered volumes protruding to the surrounding city/mountain, park, and the sea.
The three volumes house a theater, restaurant, and multi-purpose hall. The theater is enclosed by a double-skin with exterior louvers, allowing views of the city and mountain from inside. The restaurant is marked by a V-shaped aluminum element, while the multi-purpose hall is glazed with spider-point double skin overlooking the sea.
The folded aluminum roofs of the volumes create a sharp profile that yields different shades depending on the angle of the sun. The result is a dynamic building silhouette that symbolizes SWCAC’s role in disseminating culture and information―a large white ship in the harbor. Another important design concept was to enhance the SWCAC’s public nature by designing an open landscape.
To the east of the building is a large “green plate”, composed of a series of folded grass planes that gradually lead visitors from the city to the waterfront. Two grand stairs at each end of the podium connect the city and Shekou bay bypassing the roof garden that is open to public access, creating a serene refuge from the surrounding traffic.
The result is an integrated project site experienced as one large park, where visitors can freely walk around in a continuous circuit.The interior program demand of one-to-one culture and retail floor area ratio is resolved by two shifting grids that represent the museum and retail zones. Two grids merge to create three public plazas in between: the Culture Plaza, the Central Plaza, and the Waterfront Plaza.
16m-tall glazed Culture Plaza serves as the main entry from Wanghai Road to the museum sector, workshop spaces, and the 330-seat theater. The museum sector, advised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, consists of a connecting entry zone and five galleries; the largest is the 9.5m-tall Main Gallery lit by a symbolic skylight.
The Central Plaza is a dynamic atrium consisting of retail spaces and a courtyard. The Waterfront Plaza with open views of the sea consists of spiraling stairs leading to the 800 square-meter multi-purpose hall.
The plazas are designated a distinct material – Culture Plaza with red Indian sandstone, Central Plaza with white Sivec marble, and Waterfront Plaza with blue Azul Bahia granite. The plazas not only provide spatial breaks to the large facility, but also vertically connect the building and offer a variety of sightlines to spaces above and below.
By China Merchant’s enduring support, Maki team has been fortunate to participate from the early design phase up until construction supervision. It is hoped that the design of the SWCAC enhances the interplay of activities in and around the facility and helps to nurture the cultural interests of Shenzhen and beyond. Source by Maki and Associates.
- Location: Shenzhen, China
- Architect: Maki and Associates
- Principal: Fumihiko Maki
- Director: Tomoyoshi Fukunaga
- Project architect: Tatsutomo Hasegawa
- Project Team: Yasuko Okuyama, Yoshihiko Taira, Kazuo Sato, Kei Ito, Michael Sypkens*, Hiromi Kouda* (*former staff)
KMDW: Hiroto Kobayashi, Yiqing Wang, Taishi Kawada
- Project advisor: Fu Ke Cheng, Luo Bing
- Structural engineering: Arup, Shenzhen Capol International & Associates
- MEP engineering: P.T. Morimura and Associates, Shenzhen Capol International & Associates
- Facade engineering: Arup
- Landscape: Studio on site, Art-Spring Shenzhen Design Group
- Lighting: LIGHTDESIGN, Grand Sight Design International
- Acoustics: Nagata Acoustics, Huang Zhanchun Playhouse Architectural Design Counseling (Beijing)
- Interior: Shenzhen Shanxing Design Engineering, Shenzhen China Tang Decoration Design Engineering
- Security: Arup
- Site supervision: Maki and Associates, Shenzhen Capol International & Associates, ShenzhenHengan Fire Engineering
- Client: China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone Holdings, China Merchants Real Estate (Shenzhen)
- Construction: China Construction Eighth Engineering Division
- Site area: 26,161.61 sqm
- Building area: 12,037.35 sqm
- Building coverage ratio: 46.01%
- Gross floor ratio: 112.99%
- Year: 2017
- Photographs: Courtesy of Maki and Associates