Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has unveiled a dynamic, user-controlled headquarters for Chinese multinational technology company Alibaba's Xuhui District campus in Shanghai. Located in one of the city's premiere arts and innovation districts, the new workplace transforms the typical headquarters building “inside out”, highlighting the company’s "collaboration and creativity". The building's architecture is designed to resemble a cloud, symbolizing the company's digital presence in the Cloud, as well as the technology industry’s shifting skies of innovation.
The 75,000 sqm project aims to accommodate the rapid expansion of Alibaba’s multinational team with design features that prioritize flexibility, and physical and mental health. The building is located next to a public-facing building for offices and programming with indoor-outdoor workspaces that support hybrid work and dynamic and collaborative team structures.
'The only constant is change’ is one of Alibaba’s guiding principles. We took this ethos to heart, designing a workplace capable of evolving and adapting to new needs, teams, and technologies over time. The headquarters is designed in dialogue with the existing campus, inverting the neighboring building as it unfolds across cantilevered masses and staggered, green terraces. -- Scott Duncan, SOM Design Partner
Smart technology infrastructure and biophilic design features will also be integrated to further enhance employee wellness through the use of natural ventilation, terraces, and green roofs. The modular design is both highly efficient and flexible, allowing for long-span spaces and a variety of enclosed areas for a diversity of workstation layouts.
An interior courtyard is fixed at the center of the cloud for programming and teaming. Gathering spaces are also added along the exterior perimeter, seamlessly extending onto the outdoor terraces to provide access to nature, fresh air, and views of the Huangpu River. In addition, “collaboration bridges” and communicating stairs are added to the architecture to create places for smaller-scale exchange amongst colleagues.
Designed to exceed the requirements for LEED v4 and China Green Star, a high-performance facade wraps around the building to redirect up to 40% of solar heat gain and minimize glare and wind tunnels. The building will be naturally ventilated with smart systems that cycle fresh air and reduce cooling needs, and will be further moderated with an AI-controlled shading system that responds to the sun’s movement and mitigates solar heat gain. At the top of the building, roof gardens will be added to harvest rainwater.