Ennead Architects has unveiled the Shanghai Lingang Special Area master plan, a new hub for global commerce. Designed around the central axis that defines the Dishui Lake district in Shanghai, the master plan establishes the identity of a new business district. Designed as a free trade zone, this is planned to attract prominent international companies. The site's design proposes functional areas where multinational corporations can optimize business operations while creating open spaces for the surrounding communities. Ennead’s large-scale plan includes four commercial buildings, retail, civic and open spaces.
One of the key features of the Shanghai Lingang Special Area will be “The Ring,” a large-scale centerpiece anchoring the design of the whole district. This circular, cantilevered observation deck, and museum will afford 360-degree views of nearby Dishui Lake, Shanghai, and the Pacific Ocean while also providing space for cultural experiences. Four mixed-use towers support this imposing structure that combines long, curved spans and structural glazing. The Ring's design is the result of a collaboration with structural engineer JAE and façade consultant RFR.
The two towers flanking the Ring will accommodate office spaces for international corporations. The Tower Waterfall and Tower Rhomboid are designed to become two of the most easily recognizable features of the new business district. Similar in scale, the towers have distinct identities, with the Tower Waterfall being defined by curved, intersecting shapes, while the Tower Rhomboid features angular sawtooth patterning.
The new district aims to accommodate a variety of civic functions, degrees of density, and natural and built environments for people to work in and inhabit. The sub-districts include the Quad of Free Trade, Eco and Art Centers, the Mixed-Use Commercial Zone, and the Mixed-Use Residential Neighborhood. A series of linear elevated parks, landscaped with local flora, will connect commercial and retail spaces. The Financial Crescent, an avenue defined by interconnected buildings that incorporate natural elements, will reinforce the central axis and unify the entire district. The plan is designed to offer over 89,000 square meters of retail space, over 7,500 square meters of civic space, and approximately 28,000 square meters of open space.
Ennead designed the site to act as “a sponge city.” The abundant green spaces play a crucial role in absorbing excess rainwater, helping to mitigate any potential damage from storms and flooding while moderating temperatures and reducing erosion. Landscaped pedestrian spaces and rooftop gardens bring office workers and residents closer to nature. Natural motifs have also inspired the site's design, looking to the shapes of the Dishui Lake and the ripples forming on its surface to create a built environment well integrated into its natural surroundings.
The ambition was to create a 21st-century free trade hub that elevates the profile of Shanghai as a global economic player. Ennead’s masterplan and designs for individual plots support this vision by establishing a compelling and inspired identity that speaks to the importance of this region. - Grace Chen, Principal and Director of Asia Practice at Ennead Architects
Ennead Architects established an office in Shanghai in 2014 and has been active in Asia for a long time. The firm has completed more than 40 projects in China, spanning from ground-up new construction of hi-tech and commercial office complexes to adaptive re-use of existing historical and industrial buildings and significant cultural projects. Ennead has designed many innovation campuses, including Huawei Research and Development Campus, Xiaomi International Headquarters in Shenzhen, and Zhangjiang Science City in Shanghai. The firm is also responsible for the Shanghai Astronomy Museum, which opened in 2021, and the anticipated Shenzhen International Performance Center.