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MAD Architects’ ZGC Innovation Center: A Modern Icon

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

MAD Architects has complete the construction of the ZGC International Innovation Center in Beijing. This state-of-the-art center intended to serve as the designated location for the yearly Zhongguancun Forum, features a remarkable overall floor space of approximately 65,000 square meters, incorporating a significant 17,000 square meter green rooftop.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

The ZGC Forum is a renowned international conference that focuses on innovation and technology, held annually in the Zhongguancun area of Beijing’s Haidian District. This area seamlessly blends nature and history with modernity and technological advancements. It is surrounded by historical landmarks like Yuquan Mountain, the Summer Palace, and Yuanmingyuan Garden, as well as prestigious universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua University. Known as China’s Silicon Valley, Zhongguancun is a major tech hub that houses numerous high-tech companies, startups, and research institutions.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

Since its establishment in 2007, the ZGC Forum has centered around the theme of “Innovation and Development,” attracting national and international scientists, entrepreneurs, and emerging talents to share and discuss groundbreaking ideas on various topics. Over the years, it has grown into a leading global platform for the future of high-tech innovation, exchange, and cooperation.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

The ZGC International Innovation Center, designed by Ma Yansong/MAD Architects, establishes a profound connection between humanity, the urban landscape, and the natural surroundings. It seamlessly integrates into the cityscape through the incorporation of a green roof park, which encompasses trees, gardens, walkways, and architectural elements that seamlessly blend with the adjacent gardens and hills. This design approach allows the center to completely vanish when observed from the surrounding mountains.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

The center’s biomorphic structure, reminiscent of a clover, showcases a cantilevered roof that exhibits soft and fluid shapes. This unique form hovers above, providing shade from the sun, protection from the elements, and a communal space for social interaction. Consequently, it strengthens the bond between individuals and the architectural marvel.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

The transparent façade curtain wall, distinguished by its lightweight nature, transparency, and fluidity, follows the organic curves of the building’s sculptural design. This feature seamlessly merges the indoor and outdoor realms, thanks to the concealed framing system and expansive glass panels. As a result, the center achieves a harmonious integration with its surroundings.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

MAD Architects have crafted a minimalist interior with sleek lines, fostering an open and airy atmosphere conducive to the exchange of innovative ideas. The ZGC International Innovation Center boasts two immense ETFE membrane skylights, allowing natural light to flood the space and enhancing the users’ perception of space and illumination. The simplicity of the interior design aims to create user-friendly areas that facilitate social interaction and encourage active participation. Moreover, the integrated lighting design incorporates adjustable color temperature lights that traverse the building’s curves and converge in the central luminary sculpture, thereby establishing a distinctive futuristic ambiance. This design approach showcases the utilization of cutting-edge technologies and embodies a spirit of innovation.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

The ZGC International Innovation Center incorporates a unique design that seamlessly integrates various elements to create a visually appealing and environmentally friendly structure. The building’s roof is made up of 2,769 double-curved honeycomb aluminum panels coated with fluorocarbon, which not only adds to its aesthetic appeal but also facilitates rainwater collection. These panels are arranged in different patterns of density, covering the entire structure. At night, hidden lights within the roof louvers synchronize with the roof lines, creating a dynamic effect that blends harmoniously with the city’s bustling atmosphere.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

Furthermore, the green roof serves as an extension of the nearby gardens and hills, providing a serene and verdant landscape within the urban setting. The ventilation system of the center is cleverly concealed beneath the concrete “veins” of the suspended ceiling and green roof, giving the building a clean and minimalist appearance. This design choice not only enhances the overall aesthetic but also contributes to the building’s simplicity.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

In terms of sustainability, the center incorporates several features to reduce its environmental impact. Lightweight soils and low-maintenance vegetation on the roof help to minimize landscape operating costs while meeting the necessary loading requirements. Additionally, the center utilizes renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaic systems and ground-source heat pumps. It also employs secondary energy-efficiency electromechanical equipment, resulting in a zero-energy conference room and a significant reduction in carbon emissions compared to other public buildings in the vicinity.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

MAD Architects, the firm behind the design, has taken into consideration the surrounding environment and community. The building adheres to a 12-meter height limit and seamlessly blends into the natural landscape from north to south. The ‘clover-shaped’ design of the center incorporates various public spaces that are connected with nature, providing opportunities for people to engage with their surroundings. The overhanging roof and outdoor areas offer urban public spaces that are freely accessible and usable by the community.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

Moreover, the preservation of a historic tree on the northeast side of the site showcases the commitment to maintaining the site’s heritage. The tree has been integrated into a sunken courtyard, creating a tranquil space within the bustling city. The sunken garden design ensures that the underground conference rooms and public spaces are flooded with natural light, giving them the appearance and ambiance of above-ground spaces. This thoughtful design approach enhances the overall experience for occupants and visitors alike.

ZGC International Innovation Center, Beijing, CN / MAD Architects

The planning process for the permanent location of the Zhongguancun Forum commenced in the year 2020, with construction officially commencing in August 2022. The 14th Annual Meeting of the Zhongguancun Forum was hosted at the newly established center from April 25-29, 2024. The architectural design by Ma Yangsong/MAD Architects aims to position the ZGC International Innovation Center as a prominent hub for international scientific, technological, and cultural interactions. It is envisioned to seamlessly integrate with its surroundings, offering an inclusive space for the city, local community, and general public.

Images courtesy of Arch-Exist, CreatAR and Chill Shine