Case study: Gold PVD stainless steel curtain-wall for Shanghai Bund Financial Centre
Heatherwick Studio and Foster & Partners’ mixed use development
The Bund has been Shanghai’s most prestigious stretch of waterfront since the nineteenth century and the design of the Shanghai Bund Financial Center has been created as a symbolic connection between the old part of Shanghai and the new financial district.
Shanghai’s most famous street is the Zhongshan Road and the Financial Center creates a dramatic culmination to this road.
The master plan for the site was created by Heatherwick Studio and Foster & Partners and includes offices, a boutique hotel, luxury retail space and restaurants around a plaza. At the core of the scheme is Arts and Cultural center The development’s construction began in 2010 and was completed in 2016.
15,000 square meters of PVD stainless steel in Rose Gold were used across the development for façades, cladding, glazing bars, panelling and of course the extraordinary veil of bamboo tubes which drapes around the Arts and Cultural Centre.
The 420,000 square meter site had been unoccupied for some years but now has become a fitting landmark representing the long-standing prosperity of the Bund.
A distinctive architectural style
The style of architecture within the Financial Centre is a departure from the “show off” architecture so often deployed in China’s grand schemes – the often seen towers of glittering glass and with smooth, anodyne exteriors and a non-color palette. The Bund’s square buildings are stepped, tapered and layered to create not an intimidating urban backdrop but one that embraces – despite the admittedly very tall anchoring pair of towers at the south end. This style creates an exciting and unusual architecture that has its own way of being impressive. It certainly provides an opportunity to showcase the materials used on this development -Rose Gold PVD stainless steel and bronze granite.
Surprisingly the development consists of only eight buildings but the impact is that of a much greater number. The multiple heights and widths of the buildings give the impression of clusters of buildings and create a multi-layered, more friendly feel for pedestrians than that of walking between the flat façades of soaring towers.
The buildings’ entrances are emphasised which again creates a sense of invitation. They are stepped in an almost art deco style as are the window frames and bars – albeit the entrance porticoes often being more than half the height of the buildings themselves so certainly not lacking in stature.
Windows have irregular criss-crossings of bars of the PVD stainless steel creating a grille reminiscent of a Chinese screen. In concordance with the motif of the tapering towers the gaps between the horizontal bars decrease as they advance upwards. Picking up on the emblem of the irregular rectilinear shapes some windows are “blanked out” completely with , instead, panels of PVD stainless steel in Rose Gold with square indentations. These panels appear almost as external works of abstract art.
The buildings directed towards the embankment echo the proportions and spacing of the grand and prosperous nineteenth century buildings which are found along on the Bund.
The Plaza is meant to be enjoyed at night and the buildings take on a golden glow as light is reflected from the Rose Gold PVD used extensively on the buildings’ exteriors.
The Arts and Cultural Center
The glamorous style of the chunky, elongated boxy and stepped office buildings makes for an even more dramatic entrance, centre stage, of the Cultural and Arts Center which resembles no other building on the development or any other recent building. The “moving veil” which forms its façade is a piece of theater in itself – it has been humorously likened to a bamboo wind-chime.
This building departs from the style of its neighbours and also from any known precedent being squat, shapely and quite unique in its design. There is a connection with the surrounding buildings with the recurring stepping of the lower section which retreats into the building forming a roof for the ground floor.
The design of the tubes is based on the shape of bamboo poles – a textured surface and a “knuckled” effect which simulates the way bamboo grows. These tubes form a flexible, moving façade that can be adjusted to completely transform the appearance of the building.
As well as the master theater auditorium, the Center, consisting of 4,000 square meters, also houses exhibition and events halls one of which is located on its roof.
Watch the video telling the design story of the Shanghai Bund
How Double Stone Steel became involved in the project – the introduction of PVD stainless steel
Double Stone Steel first became involved in 2014 when their UK partner, John Desmond Ltd, was invited to meet the design team at Foster & Partners and Heatherwick. PVD stainless steel had only relatively recently been introduced into the UK and robust collateral was needed to demonstrate the suitability of PVD for exteriors. A list was put together of buildings in China that had exterior work in PVD and a research team from Foster & Partners travelled to each of these buildings in order to make observations and compile a report to submit back to the architectural design team.
The buildings in China, many of which had been standing for twenty years, provided strong proof that PVD was sufficiently durable to specify for exterior use. However, another stage of viability had to be successfully negotiated prior to the architects being able to commit to an exterior specification.
Only once Double Stone Steel could prove that the PVD stainless steel could withstand the most rigorous of environmental and impact testing would the architects proceed to specifying. PVD tests were set by Heatherwick Studio and carried out which successfully demonstrated that PVD withstands corrosion, chemicals, cleaning products and other potentially damaging entities
- Colour uniformity
- Dry Film Hardness
- Dry Adhesion
- Wet Adhesion
- Boiling Water Adhesion
- Impact Resistance
- Abrasion Resistance
- Mortar Resistance
- Detergent Resistance
- Window Cleaner Resistance