Practice triumphed over Fosters, Zaha Hadid and BIG with designs inspired by mangrove trees

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Grimshaw soared above a top three of Zaha Hadid and GMP to win the competition to design the transport hub

Grimshaw has beaten Fosters, Zaha Hadid Architects and Bjarke Ingels’ practice BIG to win an international competition to design a new transport hub in Shenzhen, China.

The practice triumphed over six other shortlisted proposals for the Shenzhen Airport East Integrated Transport Hub with a design inspired by the roots of mangrove trees.

Others in the running included Haptic, Kaida Global, Beijing Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute and GMP.

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The hub will connect various modes of transport at Shenzhen Airport

The seven submissions were narrowed down by a group of 12 urban planning and transport design experts in December last year to a top three consisting of Grimshaw, Zaha Hadid and Germany’s GMP.

The brief called for the creation of a new landmark urban gateway for the Greater Bay Area, a sprawling conurbation of nine cities home to 71 million people, with designs that were “safe, green, intelligent and humanistic”.

It will include terminal facilities and will connnect commuters travelling to and from the airport with high speed rail and other modes of transport.

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Grimshaw said the designs maximise the use of repeated components

Grimshaw said the proposal will be an “exemplar of environmental sustainability” with a “highly economic” architectural solution which maximised repetition of components.

Partner at the practice Jolyon Brewis said the semi-aquatic mangrove trees, which thrive in the region’s waterways, were chosen as the inspiration for the proposals because of their symbolic importance in Shenzhen and the practice’s desire to bring natural forms into its designs.

“We are often inspired by the transfer of geometries and forms from nature into architecture”, Brewis said, adding that the trees led to a “highly efficient” solution for the scheme.

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Also on the winning team were environmental engineering design consultants Atelier Ten, Mott MacDonald, China National Aviation Planning and Design Institute and Beijing Urban Construction Design Development Group.

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The proposals were inspired by the roots of mangrove trees, which are native to the region’s waterways

Atelier Ten director Dave Richard said the proposal built on work the firm has been doing with Grimshaw for many years on “biophilia, form and skin to ‘manage’ comfort and expectations through the manipulation of light, sun and air in the in-between spaces that transport interchanges generate”.

“The evocation of biophilic influence through the underlying mangrove forms serves to reinforce the connection to nature in this very busy city.”

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Atelier Ten director Dave Richard said the proposals would reinforce the busy city’s connection to nature

Grimshaw has vowed to stay a member of Architects Declare, the group of practices campaigning for the sector to mitigate its impact on the environment, despite being well known for its work designing airports.

The practice was part of the team which won a competition to design Delhi Noida airport in India in December last year.

Its plans for a third runway at Heathrow are also back on track following a ruling by the Supreme Court in the same month that the £14bn project, which was ruled as breaching the Paris climate agreement last year, was lawful.

Shenzhen Airport East Integrated Transport Hub

Top three recommended proposals:

  • Grimshaw Architects/Mott MacDonald Consulting (Beijing) Co., Ltd./China National Aviation Planning and Design Institute Co., Ltd./Beijing Urban Construction Design Development Group Co., Ltd.
  • gmplnternationalGmbH/Arup Engineering Consulting (Shanghai) Co., Ltd./China Architecture Northeast Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd./Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Rail Transit Design and Research Institute
  • Zaha Hadid Limited/China Railway Design Group Co., Ltd./Guangdong Architectural Design and Research Institute/Shenzhen Municipal Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd.

Runners up:

  • Fourth place: Foster+Partners Limited/Xidi International Design Consultants (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd./China Railway Fifth Survey and Design Institute Group Co., Ltd.
  • Fifth place: Kaida Global Co., Ltd./China Railway Fourth Survey and Design Institute Group Co., Ltd./East China Architectural Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd./Shenzhen Urban Transportation Planning and Design Research Center Co., Ltd.
  • Sixth place: Beijing Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd./Atkins Consulting Co., Ltd./Networked Architectural Design Consulting (Shanghai) Co., Ltd./Beijing Architectural Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd. 
  • Seventh place: BIG Architecture DPC/HAPTIC ARCHITECTS LTD/Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl Pte.LTD/Shanghai Lianchuang Design Group Co., Ltd.