Design Trust hosted a study tour in Shenzhen on 19th May 2018, sharing Marisa Yiu’s (Co-founder/ Executive Director) enthusiastic views on the changing landscape of Shenzhen, leading the study tour to Tencent’s newest headquarters, Artron Art Center, Baishizhou urban village, and Design Society.
The Chinese tech giant Tencent’s latest headquarters designed by NBBJ facilitates intra-personal connections, innovation, and creativity for the organization. The vertical campus is made up of two towers connected by bridges containing a specific set of facilities and programmes shared between the towers, including a cultural link with cafes, auditorium and exhibition spaces; a health link with a health centre, basketball court, and other fitness programmes including a running track that loops between the two buildings; and a knowledge link including a library, education centre and conference spaces. The new headquarters also fulfils uses 40% less energy consumption and carbon emissions with their special design features.
The tour also visited Artron Art Center, a building designed by URBANUS architecture studio, which houses the largest art book wall in the world featuring rare collections. The display includes a mix of architecture, art and printed books with 35,000 titles of featured art books selected from 1,800 international publishers, covering 8 main languages in the subjects of modern design to classical Chinese art. The tour questions the role of print media in today’s technological era, and how traditional calligraphy and graphic design play a role in communicating stories, theories and political expressions.
Another highlight of the tour was a visit at Baishizhou urban village where Design Trust Grant Recipient Mary Ann O'Donnell has been researching and working on topics of informal urbanism, community work and the phenomenon of Shenzhen’s transformation. Looking closely at small stalls and the dense urban environment, enterprises have participated since 1959 to shape its unique and complex landscape. Community driven design of 140,000 citizens have been involved in the everyday part of life and the formation of four zones in the district. They will face another fate in the next 5-8 years due to imminent clearance and phasing for newer developments.
The tour ended at Design Society, China’s first dedicated cultural design center. Housed in Fumihiko Maki’s brand new architecture includes Design Trust Grant Recipient Soilworm Lai and Mic Leong of Stickyline’s installation “On/off” 2017. Employing environmental data of the Pearl River Delta region, “On/off” transforms these data into a three dimensional visual form to raise awareness towards the fast-moving urban environment. The inaugural exhibition “Minding the Digital”, also includes Design Trust Grant Recipient, Sarah Lee and Yutaka Yano of Sky Yutaka’s “Borrowed Nature” 2017, which takes inspiration from traditional courtyard designs and explores the relationship between architecture and nature through a reimagined urban courtyard. At V&A Museum’s first gallery in China at the Design Society, “Values of Design” exhibition by Design Trust Grant Recipients Brendan Cormier and Luisa E. Mengoni, as well as Design Trust Futures Studio Mentor Sam Jacob, reflects on how we measure values and its role in shaping designs. Featuring over 250 objects from the V&A permanent collection, the exhibition frames a global debate about design values.
Photographs by Design Trust and Tim Griffith, courtesy of NBBJ.