Qingdao Agora Qingdao, China, 2011
IMC (Qingdao) Property Development Co. Ltd.
1,570,000 square feet
Architecture, Master Planning
Located in the heart of Qingdao, China, this development is comprised of a 52-story office tower and a 96-unit apartment building linked by a 4-story podium of retail, cultural, and entertainment facilities. The focus of this submission is the office tower.
Traditional Chinese scholar’s rocks inspired the tower’s form. Throughout China, scholar’s rocks are iconic vehicles for meditation on the intrinsic harmony of nature. In Qingdao, some of the most valuable scholar’s rocks are harvested from sea-side cliffs. Scholar’s rocks always rest upon a specially created pedestal conceived to represent the role of humankind (and things man-made) vis-à-vis the representation of nature in the rock.
Similarly here, the podium and the tower are diametrically different and yet mesh together, symbolizing a collaborative co-existence of man and nature. Chinese scholars have observed an additional reading: the tower as a manmade object sculpted as a crystalline scholar’s rock that is delicately embedded atop and within the thriving cultural activities of a local economy that in turn supports the building.
In contrast to the stereotypical Western concept of a tall building as a monolith representing a singular commercial interest, Qingdao Agora was designed to foster a self-sustaining economy and improve qualities of life for the city’s inhabitants. As a mixed-use development with residences, office space, and intimately scaled commercial street-level activities, the design is organized around the daily social and economic needs of its inhabitants and creates a village center for the community.
Rather than being an icon that is designed to project a hierarchical, dominant presence on the skyline, Qingdao Agora’s nature-inspired design symbolizes the cosmology of all existence and serves instead as a reflective object onto which individuals can project their own contemplative meditations.