MVRDV, a renowned architectural firm, has successfully transformed an old mixed-use tower into a vibrant and colorful skyscraper in Shenzhen. The tower now houses the Shenzhen Women & Children’s Center, offering a range of facilities for the welfare of women and children.
The newly renovated building features a library, an auditorium, a children’s theater, a ‘discovery hall’, therapy rooms, offices for staff, and a hotel. The colorful facade of the building brings a refreshing and eye-catching presence to Shenzhen’s Futian district.
Originally completed in 1994, the tower faced several challenges over the years. Due to fire safety concerns, the commercial units in the plinth were closed until 2002, and the tower remained empty for an extended period of time. Additionally, the building fell short of environmental requirements and was deemed unfit for its intended purpose by 2019.
To address these issues, MVRDV adopted a sustainable approach to transform the building. Instead of demolishing and rebuilding, the team opted to reuse the building’s structure. The most prominent change is the new facade, which features a grid of multicolored exterior frames that increase the depth of the facade to a full meter. These frames provide shading to reduce thermal heat gain and allow for natural ventilation, reducing the building’s reliance on air conditioning and improving occupants’ comfort.
In addition to the facade, other elements of the building were also transformed. The tower crown now offers a large accessible terrace with a panoramic view of the neighborhood. The courtyard, previously used for car parking, has been converted into a public space with a food court. The entrance to the city’s metro has been moved inside the Shenzhen Women & Children’s Center to improve connectivity to public transit networks and reduce car dependence.
During the transformation, MVRDV saved approximately 24,000 cubic meters of concrete from the original structure, resulting in a significant carbon-saving equivalent to 11,800 flights from Amsterdam to Shenzhen. The design also incorporated small additions to create more efficient floor plans and improve functionality.
The facade of the building showcases vibrant colors, including yellow, orange, pink, and green, which not only enliven the building but also communicate its layout. The multicolored plinth signifies its function as a service center for mothers and children, while the tones on the tower transition to a more neutral white as it hosts the hotel. The ground floor features four primary entrances, each highlighted by a different color concentration, making the building easily navigable and welcoming to visitors.
The Shenzhen Women & Children’s Center stands as an important example of repurposing buildings in the city. Its transformation sets a precedent for future adaptive reuse projects as Shenzhen prepares to actively embrace this approach. With its vibrant and sustainable design, the center serves as a symbol of progress and innovation in architecture and urban development.
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