Shade Machines and the Social Bracket

A look at Steven Holl’s winning design for an office-tower complex in Shenzhen, China

The news yesterday that Steven Holl Architects won a master-plan competition in Shenzhen, China, came with some tantalizing jargon. According to the press release, the design is “based on the concept of tropical skyscrapers as Shade Machines with a Social Bracket connecting the towers and the street level.” Bracket, eh?

This Social Bracket is, in fact, a sort of elevated bridge connecting the four office towers (also designed by Holl). Inside, there will be cafeterias, gyms, and cultural amenities like art galleries and a cinema. The roof will be a continuous garden that collects storm water and recycles greywater from the skyscapers.

And the Shade Machines? These are solar screens that automatically rotate around the circumference of the circular towers. Made of perforated photovoltaic cells, the screens will collect energy to cool the towers while blocking direct sunlight. (By making one full rotation per day, the screens are also supposed to act as a sort of “urban clock.”)

You can read more about the design on Steven Holl Architects’ Web site.

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