prisma towers by BIG subtly shimmer in the skyline of shenzhen, china

prisma towers by BIG subtly shimmer in the skyline of shenzhen, china

BIG builds the PRISMA building in Shenzhen Qianhai Bay


The winning proposal by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) dubbed ‘Prisma’ introduces a 300-meter-tall residential tower and a 250-meter-tall office tower in Qianhai, Shenzhen. The two towers taper towards the sky at a sleek angle, forming a subtle crevice of green balconies. This gesture adds not only lush openings throughout the building but also structural efficiency. The delicate silhouette is therefore characterized by rich biophilia and a generous amount of glazing, and their juxtaposition creates a subtle shimmer in the skyline, during the different times of the day.


The project is part of a new development plan for Qianhai Bay, that aims to further enhance the area’s status as an emerging financial and cultural center in Shenzhen. Located in the Guiwan District of Qianhai, the Prisma towers will touch both sides of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Plaza, also known as the ‘Green Belt’, and will mark the entrance of Guiwan. The scheme will host new office spaces, residences, and over 20,000 sqm of multi-story public spaces, in close proximity to the comprehensive regional transportation hub and Qianhai Bay. The project is expected to start construction in 2025.

prisma towers by BIG subtly shimmer in the skyline of shenzhen, china
all images by BIG



an inviting openness that connects the towers to the city


The ground floors are designed to be fully opened, creating a welcoming urban living room. This also enhances connectivity, linking the tower to the ‘Green Gallery’ and the nearby shopping mall. A sinuous pedestrian bridge acts as a canopy, creating shaded spots for pedestrians and as a link between the mall, retail podium, and surrounding neighborhood.


Generous layers of green look through the building extending from the ground floor to the roof, where locals and tourists can enjoy a sweeping panoramic view of Qianhai Bay. In order to achieve and improve thermal performance, the architects installed photovoltaic cells on the connecting beams of the west and east facades of the sloping office tower. Furthermore, they wrapped the exposed part of the office building with a double-layer closed cavity curtain wall system (CCF). Meanwhile, the apartment tower units have operable ventilation inlets built into the window frames to achieve natural ventilation.


‘Both towers are conceived as simple prismatic building envelopes split open to make room for public space on the ground where they stand. The open seams and gaping corners allow the green spaces to ascend from the ground to the sky leaving wedges for outdoor gardens and terraces for the life of the people living and working within. With its timeless simplicity and inviting openness – the architecture of the two towers is firmly rooted in the urban values underpinning Shenzhen – a vertical modern city of 1000 parks.’ explained Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Creative Director, BIG.

prisma towers by BIG subtly shimmer in the skyline of shenzhen, china
the two towers taper toward the sky at an elegant angle, unveiling a verdant biophilia



lush biophilia peeks through the building


Occupying 130,760 sqm, the residential building is articulated by three rectangular structures radiating in a tripod-like plan. The three structures span different heights, thus providing users with multiple views of the city and the sea. The three building blocks lean onto each other, thus forming vertical green gaps between them, extending from the ground to the roof. The outer wall of the west tower extends slightly towards the sky, emphasizing the ‘slanted’ design language, adding a sculptural beauty to the skyline.


The ground floor of the office building hosts common areas including an amphitheater, tree-lined social spaces, and a porch bar. The architects at BIG strategically positioned event spaces beneath the building’s canopy, trees, and overhangs, in order to respond to the climatic characteristics of the area. Rainwater is collected through the sloping curtain walls and used for the building’s irrigation system and public space maintenance.


The two structures are intentionally located between Shenzhen’s two intercity railways; the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Intercity Railway is on the east side of the site, and the proposed Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Express Railway will be on the west side of the residential towers. Through the underground hall of the adjacent underground commercial street, people can directly reach the transportation hub center from the tower. 


prisma towers by BIG subtly shimmer in the skyline of shenzhen, china
the corners peel open to create outdoor terraces on every floor

prisma towers by BIG subtly shimmer in the skyline of shenzhen, china
the generous amount of glazing creates a seamless transition between the tower and public activities

prisma towers by BIG subtly shimmer in the skyline of shenzhen, china
the design responds to the local climate improving thermal performance

prisma towers by BIG subtly shimmer in the skyline of shenzhen, china
the ‘gaps’ created between the sloping exterior walls provide outdoor terrace spaces for each level

prisma towers by BIG subtly shimmer in the skyline of shenzhen, china
this project will be BIG’s second project in Shenzhen after the completion of the Shenzhen Energy Building in 2017



project info:


name: Qianhai Prisma Towers

architects: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group | @big_builds

size: residential tower: 130,760 sqm; office tower: 110,697 sqm
location: Qianhai, Shenzhen
client: Shenzhen Metro

partners-in-charge: Bjarke Ingels, Martin Voelkle, Douglass Alligood
project manager: Flora Bao
project architect: David Holbrook
design lead: Ricardo Palma
team: Amie Yao, Bianca Blanari, Chris Tron, Eric Li, Florencia Kratsman, Jacob Li, Margaret Tyrpa, Mama Wu, Ryan Duval, Shu Du, Sungmin Kim, Yanan Ding, Yao Tong, Yimin Wu, Zhonghan Huang.

collaborators: CADG (local architect), BPI (Lighting), ARUP (Fire Safety), Buro Happold (Traffic, Sustainability, VT), RFR (Façade, BMU), Thornton Tomasetti (Structure), Turenscape (Landscape), CADG (Architecture, MEP), Atchain (Visuals), RJ Model (Physical Model)

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