MVRDV Transforms Shenzhen Tower into Women and Children’s Center

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Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has transformed a skyscraper in Shenzhen into a vibrant hotel and center dedicated to the well-being of women and children. The Shenzhen Women and Children’s Centre, designed to showcase adaptive reuse, features a library, auditorium, therapy rooms, staff offices, and a children’s theatre.

The original structure, completed in 1994, was mostly retained by MVRDV. It consists of a 100-meter-tall tower surrounded by a six-story, 5,500-square-meter building on the corner of a crossroads. To enhance the building’s energy efficiency, the studio added a colorful gridded aluminum frame to the exterior, extending the facade’s depth by one meter for increased shading and reduced thermal heat gain.

The facade boasts bright hues of green, pink, yellow, and orange, transitioning to white on the upper levels where a 201-room hotel is located. MVRDV’s founding partner, Jacob van Rijs, emphasized the sustainability of refurbishing an existing building, especially one as young as this, rather than demolishing and rebuilding. The studio wishes to set a precedent for adaptive reuse in Shenzhen.

Throughout the building, the facade colors serve as wayfinding markers and highlight passages leading to a courtyard. The main lobby was redesigned to be a vibrant and welcoming space, drawing visitors into the retail areas. Additionally, a separate children’s lobby was created at a side entrance, leading to education and play spaces.

MVRDV added a “tower crown” to the building, covering a roof terrace that offers panoramic views of the city. Previously used for car parking, the terrace has been transformed into a public space featuring a food court. The studio also relocated an entrance to the metro station inside the building, creating a larger public area with decorative circles on the pavement.

Approximately 24,000 cubic meters of concrete from the original structure were saved and reused, with minor modifications made to simplify the floor plans. MVRDV explains that the building’s rushed construction during Shenzhen’s rapid growth period led to it being deemed unfit for purpose later on. The renovation of the Shenzhen Women and Children’s Centre is part of China’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

MVRDV, founded in Rotterdam in 1993, has completed various tall building projects worldwide, including L-shaped skyscrapers in Nanjing and a housing tower in San Francisco designed to resemble a canyon. The photographs for this project were taken by Xia Zhi. The project credits include SZAD as a co-architect, landscape architect, and MEP; King Glass Engineering as the facade consultant; Yuanlizhu Engineering Consultants as the structural engineer; Brandston Partnership Inc. as the lighting consultant; and Jiang and Associates as the interior architect.

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