Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG’s) design for the new Oppo R&D Headquarters, Hangzhou, China, will exemplify the mobile communications company’s design philosophy of pursuing a balance between refined aesthetics and innovative technology, in a building that seeks to be environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable.
BIG began working with the smart device brand at the beginning of 2019 to create a research and development (R&D) headquarters and masterplan.
Located in the heart of Yuhang District, Hangzhou, the Oppo R&D Headquarters rests between a natural lake, an urban center, and a 10,000-m2 (929-sf) park. As an anchor point along a major access road stretching east to west from Hangzhou, the headquarters tower aims to be an iconic landmark and gateway to the Future Sci-Tech City and Hangzhou itself.
The needs of contemporary tech companies frequently put them in a position to choose between ideal deep and flexible floor plates to support creative and dynamic workspaces, and shallow floor plates providing optimal work environments including access to daylight and views that benefit employee well-being and productivity.
The Oppo R&D Headquarters, or O-Tower, resolves these competing requirements by translating a traditional office slab with the depth for access to daylight into a cylindrical courtyard building that is compact yet also provides large, contiguous floor area. Pushing down the southern edge of the building to the ground minimizes the external surface area of the more solar exposed façade while maximizing views out from the inward façade, which is in turn self-shaded from solar gain by the geometry of the tower. The massing is a manifestation of a building form optimized to reduce energy use and maximize access to natural light.
A series of triple-height void spaces and interconnected terraces under the sloping ‘O’ roof surface will provide visual and physical connectivity between floors, and the opportunity to introduce biophilic social spaces and shortcuts for Oppo staff.
Wrapped with adaptive façade louvers that are oriented according to sun angles and building geometry to minimize solar gain, the façade will become a fingerprint for the building, with a specific imprint that exists only for the O-Tower, and only in Hangzhou. The fingerprint façade will reduce solar gain by up to 52 percent, providing savings for cooling loads and better thermal comfort for Oppo staff, while simultaneously reducing glare, reflectivity, and light pollution.
At the heart of the O-Tower, a publicly accessible courtyard will become an urban living room for the city. The mineral hardscape at its center transforms into a green and lush landscape at the periphery as it extends to the waterfront. This urban oasis provides fresh air, retains water, and supports a biodiverse public realm.
“We have attempted to imagine the future work environment of Oppo to be sustainable on a triple bottom line: economically, ecologically, and socially,” said Bjarke Ingels, BIG founder. “The compact form folding in on itself provides large flexible floorplates with the daylight access and fresh air of a slender tower.”
“The adaptive louvered façade omits incoming solar glare and thermal heat gain, enhancing the passive performance of the building. The tilted loop of the warped roof creates a social shortcut for the Oppo employees and their collaborators connecting the ground to the summit. And the central oasis and the surrounding wetland park expands the public realm into the heart of the complex,” Ingels said.
The ground floor of the O-Tower will be open with an interconnected public space seamlessly leading visitors and staff through lobbies, exhibition spaces, or out to the park. The first three floors will be reserved for public programming including exhibition space, conference centers, a canteen, and an incubator for external workshops.
Within the new headquarters will be a variety of flexible floor plates from spacious and large floors suitable for R&D departments and special projects, to smaller more traditional floors for administrative and executive functions. On the upper floors, an Oppo canteen as well as executive and VIP lounges will overlook Hangzhou’s wetlands alongside the triple-height interconnected atria under the O-ring façade. All floors of the building integrate workspaces with biophilia and social spaces.