Tencent Helix

By Ole Scheeren © Buro-OS

Tencent Helix is a symbol of the synergies between technology, innovation and growth in a human-centric design.
Date of Commission:2023.11
Expected Completion Date:2028.11
Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd
Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
DY01-03 block, Dachanwan in Qianhai Bay Area
Total GFA: 487,150 m2
Site Area: 138,330 m2
153 meters
HQ: Office, Vortex Incubator: basketball court, rock climbing, tennis court, table tennis court, gym with dance studio, Tencent Academy, Employee Services, Conference Facilities
Wings: Office, Amenities, Exhibition Center
Forum: Office Lobbies, Conference Center, Canteens, Retail, Exhibition, Data Center

Leading multinational Tencent, one of the world’s most valuable publicly traded companies, set an ambitious brief for its new global headquarters in Shenzhen – widely regarded as “China’s Silicon Valley”. Globally known for its super-app WeChat with more than 1.3 billion users, Tencent’s new headquarters will be part of a new urban development that is comparable in size and shape to Midtown Manhattan.

Encompassing a 14-hectare site in the prominent Qianhai Bay, Büro Ole Scheeren’s Tencent Helix emerges as an iconic centrepiece at the heart of the future technology and financial district. Designed to stand as both a cohesive, singular whole and a collection of distinct elements, Tencent Helix will be the global centre of the company’s expanding ecosystem. At nearly 500,000 square meters, the campus will be almost twice as big as Apple Park, the corporate headquarters of Apple Inc. in California.

Ole Scheeren, the architect behind the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, was selected to design the new Tencent campus following a highly competitive international bidding process which included entries from Herzog & de Meuron, Heatherwick Studio, Bjarke Ingels Group, Snøhetta, OMA, Kengo Kuma, Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster + Partners, and others.

Ole Scheeren said: “Tencent has a vision for the role of technology as a multi-dimensional system of sustainable values for society. Our design for the new headquarters reflects the same values, converging technology with the needs of people and society in a multi-dimensional construct of space and social integration.”

As the central part of the expansive futuristic neighbourhood on Dachanwan island, the scheme resolves the existing masterplan’s configuration as a final piece of Shenzhen’s urban puzzle. While its swirling structure ascends upwards into four towers, a network of pedestrian pathways reaches out horizontally and ties the overall urban context together into a harmonious whole. This creates a coherent design that both stands as an iconic yet highly contextual landmark from all orientations.

The design of Tencent Helix is a symbol of the company’s meteoric growth, expressed in the curvature of a structure that ascends with a rotating gradient toward the sky. Its form emerges from the spiralling movement of a vortex, with swirling architectural forms fusing creativity and technology in a highly engaging space. The building's dynamic, spiralling movement is anchored at its core with the Vortex Incubator, nodding to the origin of Tencent’s technology universe and evoking the DNA of life.

The Vortex Incubator – the collective heart of the HQ – is a dynamic space that connects the four office towers of varying heights and flexible floorplans into a social ecosystem of activities. Hosting Tencent’s academy, extensive recreational spaces and a health club, a conference centre and collaborative offices, this space acts as an interface for staff across different sectors to meet, collaborate and communicate on three-dimensionally interconnected, large-scale floors designed for interactive use.

From the central Vortex Incubator, spiralling rays extend downwards to form the grand lobby and connect the ensemble with the Urban Forum below, allowing the public to engage and interact with the organization. This permeable urban base, with a mix of restaurants, retail, public amenities and cultural space, integrates with the campus and its surrounding activities, firmly anchoring the HQ in the wider urban context of the emerging city around it.

Intended to accommodate 23,000 of Tencent’s workforce, the Headquarters campus provides a rich variety of spatial typologies with a range of customisable floor plates for flexibility of use and future proofing. Around the Vortex Incubator and its four towers, five standalone Wings emerge from the landscape, providing flexible additional space necessary for the community to diversify and thrive.

The façade, crafted out of modular prismatic panels, creates visual complexity whilst flooding the interior spaces with daylight and providing views across the city and bay area. Despite the scheme’s visual complexity, clever design principles ensure structural efficiency and organisational simplicity.

Nestled between the towers, a system of spiralling landscape terraces forms the Vortex Garden, which embeds the headquarters in a sanctum of nature and functional outdoor space. This green lung at the heart of the structure provides a serene oasis offering green recreation spaces for staff and forming the core of the building’s sustainability and well-being strategy.

Prioritising passive design principles, the four towers of the building are orientated to provide for maximum natural daylighting across all office floors and allow for natural ventilation. The optimised spacing and orientation create shading for the Vortex Garden, essential in Shenzhen's hot and sunny climate, while also acting as an accelerator for the ocean breeze, resulting in additional cooling effects. Its garden ecosystems, further dissipating heat for the headquarters, allow for water retention in a sponge city concept, where water bodies act as retention ponds for storm surges and the buffered water is used for landscape irrigation.

Envisioned as the headquarters of the future, the multi-dimensional space for social and business interaction drives innovation and growth and defines the Tencent’s global presence in an iconic new piece of architecture.

Ole Scheeren concludes: “Tencent Helix is a symbol of the synergies between technology, innovation and growth in a human-centric design. Its well-structured social ecosystem is a testament to the evolving nature of global headquarters into a complex and interactive ensemble where functionality, sustainability and community come together.”

PARTNER: Dan Cheong
TEAM: Peiwen Deng, Hugo Zhang, Jianfeng Yin, Olga Doronina, Suhong Dong, Jinkun Huang, Hanwen Ji, Jonathan Kan, Xuechen Kang, Jiarui Li, Bin Liu, Hangda Lv, Justin Tan, Xingnan Wang, Chunxiao Wu, Man Wu, Shaw Wu, Peng Zhang, Shaoli Zhang, Lydia Zhou

With: Xindi Ai, Yimeng Bao, Alvin Chu, Mengying Cong, Yuan Cui, Tingting Guo, Cori Jou, Vincent Ku, Wentian Lei, Yingzhou Li, Jialin Liang, Yufeng Lin, Bin Long, Weiqi Long, Wuyue Meng, Yuchen Qiu, Shanil Riyaz, Jack Tsai, Hao Wang, Hokan Wong, Kai Yan, Yiqu Zhang, Bruno Zhao, Shengxiao Zhao, Danfeng Zou

PROJECT IMAGERY: Büro Ole Scheeren, Atchain, Brick Visual, TMRW, SAPLUS, Shard Island

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