A new centre of enlightenment in Hangzhou

The Bodhi Tree, according to Buddhist tradition, is the holy fig tree under which Buddha sat to attain enlightenment. So, it’s fitting that the heart-shaped Bodhi leaf was the inspiration for a new IT research centre, designed by global architectural practice Aedas, on the banks of Nanhu Lake in Hangzhou.

Built on a 228,000 sq m parcel of land within Nanhu Science City, the Nanhu Industry Park is one of eight high-tech centres worldwide developed by the Alibaba DAMO Academy to explore scientific and technological research and innovation for the betterment of humanity.

DAMO stands for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook and many of those traits come to life in this multi award winning project, which integrates state-of-the-art office space, research laboratories and visitor and exhibition centres.

Completed last year, and designed by Aedas Global Design Principal Ken Wai and Executive Directors Wei Li and Feili Shen, it is being touted as a benchmark for future workplaces, with highly functional, smart workspaces set within a serene landscape and lush vegetation.

The finger-shaped office buildings (shown above) are set in parallel, emulating the veins in the Bodhi leaf. Adopting a column-grid structure, they offer modular layouts for office, research or conference space. To enhance flexibility, office blocks can be linked to create floorplates ranging between 500 and 4,000 sq m. A glass curtain wall (below) provides a striking façade.

Working groups are distributed around shared amenities and communal space to promote communication and collaboration. A canteen is in the centre of the campus for casual dining. Courtyards, gardens and public plazas are embedded between buildings for relaxation and community activities.

‘The park blends the authentic culture and technology into the architectural form,” says Ken Wai. “It integrates the buildings with the surroundings, becoming a showcase for future office and workplace design.”