With its impressive moving facade, the Bund Finance Centre on the Bund Waterfront in Shanghai, China, designed by Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio, is a landmark building that defines the end of Zhongshan Road, one of the most famous streets in the city.
Resembling a moving veil, the building’s facade adapts to the changing use of the building and reveals a stage on the balcony and views towards Pudong. It was developed in collaboration with local engineers from Tongji University.

The veiled facade is made up of layers of 675 individual magnesium alloy “tassels” – a reference to the traditional Chinese bridal headdress – and is organised along three tracks. The tassels range in length from about 2m to 16m so that as each track independently moves, the veil rotates with the tassels overlapping and producing different visual effects and levels of opacity.

A palette of crafted stone and bronze details gives the buildings a jewel-like quality and the edges of each volume are made of richly textured, hand-crafted granite and become slimmer as they rise, giving the impression of solidity at the base and transparency at the top.

The 420 000m² mixed-use development of eight buildings combines premium offices with a boutique hotel, a cultural centre and a wide variety of luxury retail spaces. © Laurian Ghinitoiu

Connecting old and new
The 420 000m² mixed-use development of eight buildings combines premium offices with a boutique hotel, a cultural centre and a wide variety of luxury retail spaces, arranged around a landscaped public plaza. The development is highly amenable for pedestrians, with the design conceived as a point of pivotal connection between the old town and the new financial district.

“Developing the massing strategy for the buildings was an interesting challenge, in terms of relating to the context of old and new architecture, reflecting the scale of the waterfront and the character of the historic quarters,” says Gerard Evenden, head of studio and senior executive partner at Foster + Partners.

Two 180m tall towers are placed in the south of the site, while the buildings facing the waterfront are staggered in height and relate in scale and rhythm to the grand 19th-century landmarks along the Bund. At the heart of the scheme is the arts and cultural centre, which combines exhibition and events halls with a performance venue inspired by the open stages of traditional Chinese theatres.

A close-up of the individual magnesium alloy “tassels” – a reference to the traditional Chinese bridal headdress. © Laurian Ghinitoiu

“The cultural centre is an optimum blend of craft and technology. It is inspired by traditional Chinese weaving, while incorporating the latest cutting-edge technology that helps to withstand earthquakes, typhoons and severe weather. Its unique form provides a memorable and extraordinary experience for visitors, while the illuminated stage and the motion of the moving veil create a unique backdrop to the theatre of city life,” Evenden adds.

Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio, says the opportunity to create something new in this prominent location that had formerly been the river gateway to Shanghai’s Old Town was extraordinary.

“We felt a great duty to look for fresh ways to connect with China’s amazing built heritage and make a meaningful public place for thousands of people to work and come together. Influenced by the materiality and scale of the existing historic buildings along the Bund, we have built a series of simple office, shopping and cultural buildings that combine high-performance glazing systems with hand-carved stone building frames. These structures in turn surround new public spaces and speak to the heritage of the historical Bund buildings,” he says.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Foster + Partners and Heatherwick for the information and photos provided.

The tassels range in length from about 2m to 16m so that as each track independently moves, the veil rotates with the tassels overlapping and producing different visual effects and levels of opacity. © Laurian Ghinitoiu

 

Client: Shanghai Zendai Bind Int’l Financial Services Centre Property Co. Ltd.
Architect: Foster + Partners, Heatherwick Studio.
Area (gross): 426,073m².
Site area: 45 472m².

Internal breakdown:
Office areas: 190 000m².
Commercial and culture areas: 90 000m².
Hotel: 30 000m².

Parking facilities
Cars: 1 589.
Bikes: 4 000.
Helipads: 2.

Building height (8 buildings)
• North 1 building: 64,9m.
• North 2 building: 69,4m.
• North 3 building: 80,0m.
• North 4 building: 44,6m.
• Fosun Foundation: 23,9m.
• South Tower 1 building: 180m.
• South Tower 2 building: 180m.
• South Podium building: 24,0m.

Structure
• South Tower 1 and 2: Steel-framed, concrete core with concrete and steel composite decking.
• Remaining building: Concrete slabs, core and column.

Sustainability rating
• South Tower 1 and 2, North buildings 1, 2 and 4: LEED Gold.
• Remaining buildings: Three-star green buildings.

Sustainable design
• Natural ventilation.
• External shading devices.
• Building envelope with low U-value (U-value<0,58W/m²K).
• Centrifugal water chiller and gas-heat water and fan-coil units.
• Double-speed cooling tower fans.
• High-performance AHU and fan coil.
• Intelligent lighting control system for public interior areas.
• On-site waste recovery.
• Water-saving sanitary ware.

Materials
• Low-e double silver DGU glass panels.
• PVDF aluminium facade profiles on towers.
• Chiselled granite building frames.
• PVDF screens and facade frames at lower levels.
• Granite external floor paving.
• Carved stone by local stone masons and uses locally sourced granite stone.

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Caption main image: The veiled facade is made up of layers of 675 individual magnesium alloy “tassels” – a reference to the traditional Chinese bridal headdress – and is organised along three tracks.  © Laurian Ghinitoiu