Four Towers in One Competition / Morphosis

Morphosis Architects

Morphosis just shared with us their proposal for the Four Towers in One Competition.  The competition (which Steven Holl Architects ultimately won) asked participants to design an office tower complex for the new Stock Exchange Headquarters in the Futian commercial business district.  The area was in need of a unified urban plan that would include the Headquarters for the new office towers of Media Group, Construction Bank, Insurance Group, and Southern & Bosera Funds.  For Morphosis’ proposal, rather than creating various disconnected vertical skyscrapers, the project aims to create one “cohesive, interwoven district.”  By conceiving the sites as 3-dimensional envelopes rather than flat 2-dimensional footprints, the buildings can be interwoven to “facilitate a network of interlocking forms reminiscent of the venerated Chinese puzzle.”

More images and further project description after the break.

Morphosis Architects

“In response to the interconnectedness of the new global city, Four Towers in One re-conceives the conventional urban grid as a dynamic, multi-dimensional organization, or armature, able to support the complex systems that define contemporary urban life,” explained the architects.

The tower is designed to become rooted in a new urban fabric that fluidly connects other built forms and civic spaces.  Each tower does not have its own identity but rather together, the towers create a scheme that includes the entire Financial District as a new type of icon,  “a district with its own unique character amidst the greater city of Shenzhen.”  The result of this strategy is “a holistic scheme that is greater than the sum of its parts-where integration and collaboration create enormous pragmatic and symbolic potential for all stakeholders.”

Morphosis Architects
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Morphosis Architects
Morphosis Architects
Morphosis Architects
Morphosis Architects


Location: Shenzhen, China

Client: China Construction Bank with China Jianyin Investment Securities

Site Area: 1.8 acres / 0.7 hectares

Size: 829,900 gross sq ft / 77,098 gross sq m

Program: Office Building

Design: 2008

Type: Commercial

Design Director Thom Mayne

Project Principal Kim Groves

Project Designer Ben Toam

Project Team Linda Chung, Amy Kwok, Rachel Smith, Satoru Sugihara

Project Assistant Jesus Banuelos, Andrew Baty-Csorba, Anne Marie Burke, Min-Cheng Chang, Jessica D’Elena, Alex Deutschman, Penny Herscovitch, Marh Johnson, Apoorv Kaushik, Andrea Manning, Hugo Martinez, Taraneh Meshkani, Michelle Nermon, Aleksander Tamm-Seitz, Shanna Yates

Facade Consultant Buro Happold

Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Engineer Buro Happold

Structural Engineer Thornton Tomasettit Group, Inc

Cost Consultant Davis Langdon

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Four Towers in One Competition / Morphosis" 06 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • krush

    One of the most interesting morphosis projects i have seen! Certainly executed better than steven holl.

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  • Alex Leonard

    My heart skipped a beat seeing this. Much more radical than the Holl design. The drama of the spaces this creates are spectacular. I wish I could have seen this built.

  • zga


  • rex

    like aways, its a little bit hard to define the spaces. but that is the point of morphosis. when the whole project with various programs occupies the site plan as one building like an organism.
    thats what i fell when i see that kind of archictecture. a really impressive demonstration of a organized space erganically.

  • killuation

    brilliant, but i still found it funny ‘coz the description in chinese seems to be translated by google translator and make no sense at all~ lol

  • hbchbc

    But don’t you guys think the drawings/renderings are a little too simple as an entry of competition for something which will be really built? Everything is grey, everything looks transparent. At least you should show people what the building looks like in the real world.

    • killuation


    • rodrigobocater

      i know its about a real world, but talking about morphosis. thats a worldwide famous office, with a very single production on these days, that needs a diferent interpretation. you can’t judge steven holl’s project as you judge that project. thats not the same style and procuction.

      and in fact. thats a ‘basic project’ presentation, not a executive detailed project. just a roundup through the ideias, with a little bit of consistency

      • tangsys

        i think it’s because every competition show us a dream, not talks about a real world.
        someone who can creates it, someone who can earn the pay. that’s the real world.
        the only thing i think about it is why the architect only talk about building.
        how about public spaces??? most people really care is the public spaces, even they have no
        money. HAHA

  • james

    what the hell is going on?

  • Jon

    I looked at Stevn Holl’s submission, and though i do not like it myself I will say this about it…
    the one thing that his project does that Morphosis failed to do (which is honestly quite stupid) is address the realm of PUBLIC SPACE !!!!
    Look at this thing, it ALL BUILDING!!! D:
    And on top of that think of how the public (who by the way are the real critics of architecture) would interact with this. From the street level/ approach it looks like a mess and impenetrable. From the plans submitted, i has no subconscious order and the spaces seem only for those who are in the building, virtually creating an island effect of social interaction. And i guarantee you if this thing were build it would be a good eye and name candy, but aside from that horrid space.
    And also look at the way it just ignores the PRIMARY FOCUS of this piece of land, classic student work :P

    • Tuf-Pak

      Well said. I agree.

    • nischal

      well said mate… i agree with u.i completl< adore morphosis designs … in this case i guess when the programme is more public oriented the approach should be more focussing on giving back to the use and not being subjective and sit like a monster

  • Ultr@levure

    Is it architecture ?
    Is it a giant sculpture ?
    Is it really human and sensible ?

    It a monster.

  • hj

    amazing project, way more interesting than Holl’s project, but sometimes clients don’t want interesting…

  • GeorgeFP_SA

    Beautiful project! Love the way the building seem to merge and evolve out of its surroundings at the same time! Great!

  • GeorgeFP_SA

    Beautiful project! Love the way the building seems to both merge and evolve out of its surroundings at the same time! Great

  • scud


  • Alex Leonard

    I agree, what the Holl design does have is non-built space. Although I believe that the voids between the built environments of this project could be taken advantage of rather effectively (honestly they show very little of the ground level because that isn’t the focus).

    The most important difference, and what I guess won it for Holl is the fact that he literally spanned the entire project site, physically connecting all the plots involved. This entry by Morphosis is connected in concept by it is divided physically. The strength of the Nouvel Tower in between is too much to be appropriately bridged by a psychological connection alone.

    • Alex Leonard

      *but it is divided physically

      • Jon

        The site for this project in composes the Jen Novell tower…

        But that not the important thing here…
        Look at the way the Holl project creates his version of public space along the same level of the Novell tower’s or hanged section. It kinda makes me want to see what type of circulation is going on on the ground level, because I think this might be a gathering place or a transient place for a large mass of people. But if it was not …. it would make both project pretty awkward.

  • Frank Phelps

    i thought i liked this at first glance. but after a while it became disgustingly convoluted. i agree with the public space comments.

  • Nick

    Don’t build that

  • me

    will that work?…

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  • d

    i like steven holl’s better.. But just by quick look.

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  • dE_fOrmA

    Wonderful mess.It would be a fantastic landmark for Shenzhen.
    It failed to connect OMA’s box to the whole project though.

  • sv

    if architecture is a cultural product, then this as well as Steven Hall’s entry truly reflect the state of current Chinese culture!

  • JJ

    it’s a stranger -
    like the city in 5th element

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  • qwe

    that`s so imagination..(8O
    it`s buteful,but in the sime it looks so over!! (6_6)

  • Lasse Lyhne

    I think it is sad we can’t build this fast enough for it to really work. I know I should’nt and there is no good reason for it but I think it is very cool…

  • Vasundhra


  • hicham-archi

    i like his work with horizontal volumes more than the tower and verticality, those horizontal volumes generate incredible spaces

  • P.Burke

    a giant monster
    and i cannot see any sense of “chinese culture” from it
    it is totally an adoration to formalism.