Design Awards: FHCA's Two Sunken Plots for the Vanke Design Community
What will tomorrow's office buildings look like? How can we create new green spaces in crowded cities? How do we build light, airy spaces underground? Over in Shenzhen, China, FCHA architecture studio has proposed some fresh answers...

This autumn, we’ll be looking in more detailed at some of the shortlisted architectural projects for the 2019 Dezeen Awards. Beginning with some very green, very agile office spaces: FCHA’s two sunken plots for the Vanke Design Community in Shenzhen, China.

What will tomorrow’s office buildings look like? How can we create new green spaces in crowded, fast-growing cities? How can we build light, airy spaces below the ground? Over in Shenzen, China’s answer to Silicon Valley and Hong Kong’s neighbour, FCHA architecture studio has proposed some fresh answers.

The Vanke Design Community is a sloping urban park of fair-faced concrete, glass and steel offices with grassy green roofs. Along its eastern edge, FCHA has transformed a pair of sunken plots into a multi-level complex of coworking, conference and exhibition spaces, individual offices, a lecture hall and a makers’ workshop. “Under the guidance of the landscape and urban design,” say the architects, “the project connects the ground floor and basement floor through large green slopes.”

At the heart of the design is a stepped outdoor theatre of seating and plants; the design of which is also mirrored indoors in a small stepped lecture hall. Above ground the complex feels like a green university campus, but underneath, kept bright and airy by spacious lightwells, is a variety of workspaces: a large shared coworking space divided up by cabinets and bookshelves, and quiet private offices by the light-filled atrium and the natural rock wall left behind from when the site was blasted.

Each of these private offices, say the architects, “can have a separate lighted patio and outdoor leisure platform. This is a good place to meditate, be in a trance, reflect on one’s mind or looking at the sky.” The feeling is calm and relaxing. These are spaces where you can work below the ground and feel like you’re up in the sky; where you can stay in the heart of the city, and feel like you’re strolling through the park.

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