Dominique Perrault Architecture & Zhubo Design Co win First Prize in the international competition for the Shenzhen Institute of Design and Innovation

Dominique Perrault Architecture and Zhubo Design Co have been designated winners of the international competition for the design of the Shenzhen Institute of Design and Innovation.

-Text provided by the authors

In recent years, the city of Shenzhen has launched numerous international competitions for the creation of large-scale cultural and sports facilities, attracting architects from around the world. In particular, the city is planning the construction of a dozen cultural facilities that will assert the city as an internationally recognized innovation center. Alongside the new campus of the Shenzhen Institute of Design and Innovation, there is an impressive list of new projects: the Shenzhen Opera House, the Shenzhen Exhibition Center, the Design Museum, the Shenzhen National Museum, the Museum of Science and Technology, the Oceanographic Museum, the Nature Museum, the Shenzhen Museum of Art and the Shenzhen Music Conservatory. The new campus of the Shenzhen Institute of Design and Innovation will form one of the new sites of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), which was established in 2011, and will accommodate about 4,000 students. This project demonstrates the city’s ambition to create a high-level international school in response to an increasing demand for talents in the field of design, in Shenzhen and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao bay. Among 37 successful teams selected through the open application process, nine were shortlisted to participate in the design competition, including renowned offices such as MVRDV and Studio Libeskind.


The site chosen for the new campus is located on the outskirts of Shenzhen, in a still mainly rural area, along the mountain relief of the «Phoenix Mountain.» The project is integrated into the landscape, and preserves the legibility of its horizontal structure, ensuring that no prominent architectural element would disturb this «plateau» geography.

Inspired from a Chinese character, reflecting the atmosphere of a line of mountain and water, it creates a large-scale landmark, a horizontal line in the site, detached from the ground like a large bridge, and develops a built front of more than 700 meters long. Hung above the ground, the main volume maintains visual transparency at pedestrian level, and its compact height guarantees views towards the great landscape. Above the natural ground, it creates a protective shelter, hosting public spaces and gardens, punctuated by «domes» housing various easily identifiable academic functions. The functional organization of the campus is simple and intuitive, articulated around two main elements: the «Hyper-Ground» and the «Hyper-Roof».


The project encourages pedestrians and soft circulations, limiting road traffic on the entire site. Underneath the entire length of the suspended volume is located the main circulation axis of the campus: a long-protected pedestrian promenade, designed as a wide platform on which the functional activities of the campus, various public spaces and access to the common programs are developed. The main public space is shaped by a large outside square, hosting the social life of the campus. On the city side, a mineral amphitheater connects the university site to its neighborhood and forms the entrance to the campus. The project underlines a strong desire to create exchanges and interactions, to hybridize disciplines in order to encourage innovation and excellence. The approach also seeks to introduce a strong vegetation and the creation of intimate and protected spaces, through porosity between interior and exterior. Along the shaded and airy pedestrian avenue, large circulation cores are arranged to connect the ground and roof levels, as well as the functions between them. The common facilities are located in the monumental «domes» visible from the «hyper-ground»: the library, the university refectory, the auditorium, the exhibition halls and the student club, a common space for gathering and relaxation.


The circulation cores that connect the «Hyper-roof» to the «Hyper- ground» serve all the teaching spaces located on the two levels of the main volume: classrooms, teaching laboratories and research laboratories. Above, the roof creates a panoramic promenade, a huge balcony overlooking the city, 50m above street level. The access to the roof level offers a real garden for everyone, arranged in different sectors, each with a specific program and atmosphere: garden spaces, terraces, plazas, sports areas, etc.

Treated with the same attention as the project’s vertical façades, the large roof also plays an active role in the technical functioning of the campus. The roof is widely vegetated and contributes to the insulation of the building and the recovery of rainwater. The installation of photovoltaic panels also provides energy for the entire building.


The students and professors housing consists of several «villages», offering a terraced architecture with patios. These groups of housing units set in the topography, with their green roofs, are reminiscent of traditional layout of the hillside terraces, and their patios are a reference to the traditional Chinese composition of housing.


The preferred materials are metal and glass. Punctuated by thin vertical lines of light metal, the large windows provide a natural lightning for all the working spaces and wide views of the landscape. The vibrations of the envelope, between the white and emerald tones of glass metal, will constantly vary its appearance, so that the building will be perceived differently depending on the angles of approach, the seasons or the time of day. The reflections unify the composition and preserves the interior activity from outside views. Finally, the constructive principles and the arrangement of the spaces allow great flexibility in the interior design and the possibility of imagining possible future developments of the campus.


About Dominique Perrault Architecture

Dominique Perrault has an international career as an architect and urban planner. Each project is an opportunity to establish a prospective, strategic and humanistic vision, going beyond the only programmatic aspects and mixing the scale of the city and that of the architecture in an inseparable way. He has notably worked on the future of the Ile de la Cité in Paris and designed the urban project of the future “Athletes’ Village” of Paris 2024. His emblematic works include the Berlin Velodrome, Ewha University in Seoul, the 4th and 5th extensions of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the DC Tower in Vienna, and the transformation of the Pavillon Dufour at the Château de Versailles and the Longchamp racecourse in Paris. Current projects include the new Villejuif-Institut Gustave Roussy station of the Grand Paris Express, the DC Tower II in Vienna, the transformation of the Pascal Towers in Paris La Défense, and the «Lightwalk» project, a future transportation hub of the Gangnam district in Seoul. Honorary professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, he is also a member of the french Académie des Beaux-arts.

Facts and Credits

Date of the competition  September 2020 – January 2021
Location  Bao’an Education City, Fenghuangshan Creative Park, Shenzhen, China
Site area   348 955 m2
Built area   300 000 m2
Estimated investment  2,79 billions of Yuans
Client  Engineering Design Management Center of Bureau of Public Works of Shenzhen Municipality, Shenzhen, China
Architects Dominique Perrault
Local architects  ZHUBO DESIGN CO., LTD; Shenzhen
Landscape architects   PWP LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, California, U.S.A.
Engineering consulting   BuroHappold Engineering, United Kingdom
Perspective and movies   Fancy Digital Technology Co Limited, Beijing, China
Program   classrooms and laboratories, working spaces and offices for administration, library, auditorium, sports facilities. exhibition spaces, catering spaces, student and teacher housing, technical and logistical spaces