Financial institutions — and stock exchanges in particular — are usually designed to project an image of stability. Not so in Shenzhen, where OMA's new Stock Exchange is set to open in a few weeks.
Unlike the staid Neoclassicism of Wall Street, Shenzhen is getting one of the most structurally daring buildings of the century: an 250m tower than anchors one of the largest architectural cantilevers ever built.
These days, Shenzhen's stock market is mostly virtual — so this building is more of a symbol of the market than a home for it, since most of the space will be leased as commercial offices. The irony isn't lost on OMA, who describe the floating base as a representation of financial risk, supported by a long spine of commercial real estate. "The essence of the stock market is speculation: it is based on capital, not gravity," they write. "In the case of Shenzhen's almost virtual stock market, the role of symbolism exceeds that of the program — it is a building that has to represent the stock market, more than physically accommodate it."
The three-story podium is lifted 30m into the air, creating a gigantic cantilever that covers a public plaza. The otherwise generic-looking slab is anchored to the ground thanks to a web of steel supercolumns that link it back into the 46-storey commercial tower. The floating floors house the heart of the stock market, where all of its functions are based, and where its activities are broadcast to the city via an embedded lighting system.
To put its size into perspective, the roof garden above the podium is the width of two football fields. How much steel was needed to make such a move? Enough to make this building one of the biggest steel projects in China right now, which is saying... a lot.
To see some some really wild construction images, head over to Skyscraper City's forum.
Pictures: Philippe Ruault