OMA´s new landmark for Shenzhen: Crystal Island competition

Crystal Island @ / Ole Scheeren

Shenzhen is one of the most active cities in China, and was recently appointed “City of Design” by the UNESCO (2008).  A recent competition for Crystal Island, located in the center of the city, envisions the Shenzhen Creative Center, an iconic project in front of the city hall.

The project, won by OMA in collaboration with chinese firm Urbanus, includes  a major new cultural center, transport hub, and public landmark. The Shenzhen Creative Center takes advantage of such a central location, and disaggregate the program over a 20-hectare landscape of parks and gardens, on which clusters of pavilions and small buildings form “Design Villages” creating a micro urban system which includes buildings for Design Administration, Tourism Center, buildings for design retail and expo and a design campus. It also includes a big open space, the Ceremonial Plaza.

All these buildings and open spaces are connected by an elevated pedestrian system, the “Ring Connector”, which also connects to existing and future train and subway stations.

At the center of this circular project, a spherical void becomes a landmark for the city: the Shenzhen Eye.

The disaggregation of the program on such an active area has the potential to mix the creative industry with the rest of the city’s activities, potentiating  multiplicity, permeability, and openness towards creative activity.

The project collaboration between OMA and Urbanus includes the young Ole Scheeren and Rem Koolhaas, and Urbanus partner Meng Yan, with a team lead by OMA Associates Dongmei Yao and Anu Leinonen.

After the break, a schematic model of the program relations and another rendering.

Shenzhen Crystal Island @ OMA / Ole Scheeren

Shenzhen Crystal Island @ OMA / Ole Scheeren

Cite: Basulto, David. "OMA´s new landmark for Shenzhen: Crystal Island competition" 17 Jun 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • HJ

    I don’t get it

  • rodrigo bocater

    who get it?! WTF!

  • MJ

    I get it!

  • alexander

    It’s OMA you don’t have to get it. is there something to get?

  • Lasse

    The circle is a chineese symbol of the sky, and with the skysphere it is inverted but in the symbolic shape of sky. OMA stop this… You are really embaresing yourselves!

    – that or: I don’t get it…

  • medusa

    I was reading the other day the fantastic article/conference that Rafael Money wrote about Koolhaas. When you see that incredible set of projects that OMA did from the end of the eighties to mid nineties you can’t avoid to marvel at how they redefined the architectonic field and everything that was being done at the time: Agadir, ZKM, the biblioteque de France, Jussieu, la Villette. In the following 15 – 20 years many people have been developing, re reading and badly copying that incredible set of ideas. How sad is comparing those seminal projects with almost anything that OMA is doing nowadays. Compare the lyrical poetry of the interstial space of Agadir to the RAK convention centre… compare the sophistication of Nexus World housing with any one liner they are doing in China… too much success equaling to a slow intellectual decadence. OMA will keep building, publishing, lecturing… but they stop being relevant some time ago.

  • fl!p


    where can i find the article about rafael moneo & koolhaas?

  • E


  • Xing


    why not put your comparison on blog and we could take a look? maybe you did, so share your address.pls.

  • shenzhen post

    that’s great!

  • Isamu

    Medusa, could you share article Moneo/conference

  • Medusa


    You can find the article in Rafael Moneo’s (Not money, it was one of those word auto correction that I didn’t see) book “Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies in the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects”. I think is based on a series of lectures Moneo gave when he was Harvard’s dean.
    I will think about putting the comparison on the blog. For the time being, there are only some articles in Spanish I wrote some years ago. Some English version coming soon!

  • Temple

    just another oma nothing new !……..21 century!!! its time to get something realy new but the clone themselves

  • Temple


  • Lite

    Ah yeah, I get it
    But doesn’t worth a comment

  • Rony

    … I agree with Medusa i have read the book…

    and lets start over : I don’t get it

  • mimar

    OMA? who was that again?
    oh yes, the office from the guy who one day decided to travel the whole world, talk a lot but say nothing, publish thick books with lots of random shit and no content?
    yes, ok, he had some nice ideas – in the beginning – but then either lost his mind or just decided to make lots of money with bullshitting…

    take it easy guys

  • ivy

    i don’t get it.. !

  • David Basulto [tricky]

    It´s a very schematic concept, but I think that in that way it highlights what is important: separating the program into several pieces on a busy context potentiates interactions between the design buildings and the rest of the activities on the city center, instead of a closed campus completely focused on itself.

  • Nada

    Honestly absolutely don’t get it.

  • G


    I haven’t read the article but I think the points you listed hits the nail on the head. If shown this kind of work to an architecture public in the 1990′s, nobody would believe it to be the same OMA! I guess it isn’t…

  • belly

    for a person living in shenzhen,the design is great!


    “despite all my logic and my theory i throw a motherfu*ker in, so you ignorant nigga’s hear me”… quote from ms hill

    a little respect, please….

  • Lucas Gray

    Clearly there are some missing images or something. Nothing shown adequately explains what exactly their design is.

  • Tuf-Pak

    My apartment is 3 blocks from here. In addition to saying you could basically drop a bomb here and not help but improve the area… Not to defend this particular project but I’d like to say that I think we really shouldn’t try and claim that this is an empty concept when we get 3 images and little else.

    Secondly, to argue that OMA has embarrassed it’s legacy in the years after 1995 is pretty insulting, and demonstrably false. I think, of all the contemporary “name” architects, you’d be hard pressed to find many firms that find such startlingly inventive solutions to each new project.

    Souterrian, CCTV, the Dutch Embassy, Casa Musica, Seattle Library, I think they stand up pretty well compared to the theoretical and competition projects of the 80′s and early 90′s.