What do you have to do to get tossed out of the "Architects Declare" club?
OPPO is the fifth largest telecommunications company in the world that you have never heard of, now with 40,000 employees in 40 countries. It has been fishing around for an architect for its new headquarters in Shenzhen, China, and settled on Zaha Hadid Architects after a look at BIG, SOM, Rogers and Henning Larsen.
The four interconnected towers (so interconnected that it is hard to visually separate them) get up to 42 storeys high with "two towers of flexible, open-plan spaces linked by a 20-storey vertical lobby, and two external service towers providing vertical circulation."
Large atrium spaces unite all occupants through visual connectivity, helping to foster collaboration between different departments of the company. The abundance of natural light, varied working environments and diversity of routes for staff and visitors to move through the building are all conducive to creative engagement and spontaneity.
There's public space at the 10th floor "Sky Plaza" and the "rooftop Sky Lab will be a popular public space with spectacular views over one of the world’s most dynamic cities."
The project is going for LEED Gold, connects directly to the subway, and I do appreciate the gestures at grade, where "the towers taper inwards at lower levels creating large civic spaces at street level."
But I keep looking at this building, all that glazing, all of that steel and concrete, and keep going back to the Architects Declare pledge to which Zaha Hadid Architects is a founding signatory. You know, the declaration where they say they will (among other things):
- Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients and supply chains.
- Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this approach.
- Include life cycle costing, whole life carbon modelling and post occupancy evaluation as part of our basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use.
- Accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon materials in all our work.
- Minimise wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum and in detail.
LEED gold is not too high a bar. Architects declare is just that – a declaration, with no real power, no real standard. But it sure seems to me that this building doesn't even nod in its direction. What do you have to do to get tossed from this club?