Shanghai West Bund AI Tower & Plaza / Nikken Sekkei

Architects: Nikken Sekkei
Area: 510,000 m²
Year: 2021
Photography: Mintwow, West Bund, Eiichi Kano
Lead Architects: Nikken Sekkei
Construction Company: China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd., Shanghai Construction Group
Owners: Shanghai West Bund Development (Group) Co., Ltd.
Construction Documents: SISADR, ArchiUnion
City: Xuhui District
Country: China

Shanghai West Bund AI Tower & Plaza, designed by Nikken Sekkei, is a transformative urban development in Shanghai’s Xuhui District. Completed in 2021, this project integrates innovative wind design with the area’s historical aviation legacy, creating a harmonious blend of architecture and landscape.

Shanghai west bund ai tower & plaza / nikken sekkei

Located on the west bank of the Huangpu River (West Bund) in Shanghai, the project comprises four buildings, including two skyscrapers. Nikken Sekkei was chosen in an international design competition in 2009 to lead this new urban development on the site of the former Longhua Airport. The firm has been involved in local area urban and architectural design for over a decade. The project’s most distinctive feature is the “wind design” of the overall layout and building shapes, reflecting wind-generated streamlining in all aspects, from building exteriors to public spaces, landscaping, and interior designs.

The towers spread out at lower levels, resembling phoenixes spreading their wings, creating space for relaxation. The wind-driven design of the entire site links strongly to its history as an airport, maintained by the surrounding aviation industry and prevailing winds. Early incorporation of simulation technology predicted wind flows and optimized the people-friendly tower layout. Rounded tower corners and elongated floor plans allow steady wind currents to flow smoothly, reducing the downdraught effect and minimizing environmental impact. Wind flow is also directed into the urban area behind the towers, mitigating the heat island effect caused by rapid urbanization.

The expansive building bases, reminiscent of “skirts,” create wind shelters and large roofs over the podium rooftop and ground level, softly blocking rain and strong sunlight. This design reproduces the comfortable spatial nature of traditional Asian porches and eaves in a modern, site-specific manner, resulting in a three-dimensional semi-outdoor space in the commercial area.

Shanghai west bund ai tower & plaza / nikken sekkei

The project’s long north-to-south space, formerly an airstrip, has been turned into a park full of greenery. The spatial characteristics of the former airport are preserved as the city’s backbone, creating a recognizable “axis.” A subway line runs parallel to and underneath the park, with two stations serving as transportation hubs for the surrounding sites. Neighboring site plans are based on this framework, with buildings standing in the center and on both sides of the park, connected by an underground walkway that links to the subway and underground mall, facilitating comfortable pedestrian mobility.

Shanghai west bund ai tower & plaza / nikken sekkei

The project exemplifies environmentally symbiotic architecture that harnesses the “power of place.” The building layout and landscape design ensure optimal views of the Huangpu River from the two towers’ offices and hotel, along with smooth pedestrian flow at ground level. Building operations maximize natural energy use. Façades are characterized by vertical fins that express the towers’ ascent and the expanse of their skirts. A 500mm deep vertical fin on one building effectively blocks direct sunlight on its east and west sides without obstructing the view. Ventilation openings in the large office windows allow fresh air to flow directly into rooms.

Energy-saving devices and equipment realize “green” building merits with low energy loss. The site’s landscaping, including greenery, water features, slopes, and lighting, responds to wind and environmental architecture. The site’s potential was maximized by blending landscape and architecture, integrating the towers directly into the site. This unique plan was realized through the redevelopment of an existing urban area in the city’s heart. Retail and office spaces opened in 2021, with a five-star hotel operational since March 2023. The new West Bund area, including this facility, is now attracting advanced industries, such as AI, in place of the former aviation industry. These new buildings symbolize the city’s history and energy for future development, providing a home for those drawn to it.

Shanghai west bund ai tower & plaza / nikken sekkei
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Project Location

Address: 300 Yunjin Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China

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