Feb 14th 2016

Ph.D. Alumni's Beijing Tower on ArchDaily

Zhou Qi's (Ph.D. '02) People's Daily HQ Tower has been featured on ArchDaily. 

Zhou Qi is chief architect for the project from his firm Architects and Engineers Associates of Southeast University.

From the architect for ArchDaily: This building has been one of the most important constructions in Beijing since 2008 Olympic Games. Two reasons for this, one is that People’s Daily is the top official newspaper in China, and two due to its location in the heart of Beijing's CBD(commercial business center), about 8 kilometer east of the Forbidden City (the ancient Emperor"s Palace, the symbol and core area of ancient China's capital), where there have been a few internationally designed architectural works. We won the national competition in 2009 and began to construct in 2010, finished in 2015. We tried to do something creative, contemporary and modern, but also that reflects our culture and tradition. More importantly, this building has cost-constraints, and needs to be use-effective and environmently-friendly. With the whole design contract, we finished the all design work, including architecture, engineering, landscape, and interior.

Exterior in Context (Photo: Yao Li)

The form of this high-rise building comes from Chinese character "人" which translated into English means PEOPLE, corresponding to the title of the media PEOPLE'S DAILY. The triangular plan is transformed from the structure of the character "人". And the streamline body is shaped by cutting an ellipsoid with three hyperboloids.

Overall Exterior Close-Up (Photo: Yao Li)

We presented a 3D organic shape or “perfect” form, in which there is no dead point from all viewing angles. More importantly, this shape can be defined by strict geometric calculation. An old Chinese saying, “inner rectangular, outer round shape”, means principal must be followed while modest and friendly manner should presented. Now, this building is harmonious with its surroundings. Since Beijing is a severe earthquake area, we designed three angle spatial trusses supports working together with its elevator core entity, while regular vertical columns and concrete floors are only secondary structural components.

Lobby Interior (Photo: Yao Li)

Inside the building, we designed curved corridors and public spaces where people will not feel bored while walking and working. Due to its round parallel shapes and edges, the floor-area- ratio is also high effective, 73% (usable area over whole areas), while averagely, in Beijing, similar office buildings, this number is only 53%.

Detail Dome (Photo: Yao Li)

For the 3D rounded shapes, it is hard to find a way to make them perfect using normal materials, such as metal panels, or glass. We use glazed terracotta (Chinese traditional materials, such as the 2500 years-old terracotta warriors in Xian Qin’s Emperor Mausoleum and Chinese traditional glazed roof tiles, last for thousand year but never decay for its strength and bright color. These short terracotta baguettes with different lengths and cutting angle of end surfaces weaved to fulfill the sensitive 3D curved shape. High-strength cable structure is used to connect these baguettes. Totally, there are more than 223,000 baguettes used with the length from 650mm to 1200 mm. There is a 900 mm space between the woven terracotta baguettes and aluminum sandwich insulation panel. In this way, it is good for the temperature behavior inside the building. Air automatically flows between the double skins to have a grey protection layer. Due to air dust pollution, it is difficult to clean the building's surface. By using this meshed surface, it automatically cleans the skin by rain, and all the dusts drained into the inner flat skin and leading to the ground collecting water system for plantings. Also, because the glazed terracotta is very smooth and shiny, there is much less chance for the dust to stick compared with normal metal materials.

Detail Facade (Photo: Yao Li)

This building is more than 80% prefabricated using steel structure and components which can be dismantled and recycled toward the end of its life. We use ordinary double-layer glazed glass panel to fill office space, while other exposure parts, a double mesh and solid skins are used. All the rain water can be collected throughout the site for planting purpose. With a glass curtain wall, it is difficult to prevent a focused reflection to its surroundings, both drivers and neighboring buildings. By carefully calculation and arrangements, we use convex forms for the glass curtain. When sun ray casts on the bugle surface, it is diffused and spreading in all directions