The Exo Towers: A Modern Marvel in Office Building Design

United Units Architects' Innovative Approach to Digital Finance Center Design

The Exo Towers, designed by United Units Architects, is a groundbreaking office building that reflects the rapid transition of banking towards digitalization. The design, which won the Silver A' Architecture, Building and Structure Design Award in 2023, is a testament to the power of flexibility and versatility in architecture.

The Exo Towers, located in the heart of Jinghu New District, Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China, is a modern marvel in office building design. The project, which started in April 2013 and completed in June 2021, is a response to the rapid transition of banking towards digitalization. The design principles of flexibility and versatility were central to the design of the office layout, allowing for future changes in working patterns.

The building is comprised of two towers linked together by a 70m-high central glazed atrium. As the digital finance center of the Bank of Ruifeng, the building utilizes an external structural system that greatly reduces the number of columns of the typical floor. This creates a large, open office space, allowing for the ongoing flexible division of functional layout to cope with the banking business adjustments brought on by new digital challenges.

The Exo Towers adopts a hybrid system of steel structure and concrete structure. The central concrete core and the external steel frame jointly constitute a supporting system. The external structure is clad with linen patterned stainless steel plate. The main canopy are prefabricated in factories and bolted on the site. The cable-net glazing shows an extraordinary transparency and clarity by hiding the anchors and spring assemblies in an ingenious way.

The 70m full-height glazed atrium between the two towers is the spatial core of the building. Along the west facade, six sky bridges span between the two towers and enhance the building's horizontal connections. Cloud-shaped sunshades are suspended at the top of the atrium. A full height cable-net glass curtain wall is used for the east facade of the atrium. The atrium spaces are flooded with natural daylight, thus every floor in each tower receives daylight from two directions, outside and inside, considerably enhancing the internal ambience and working conditions.

In order to effectively organize all architectural elements, the Exo Towers adopts an integrated design approach. A 1.5m x 1.5m modular grid system is utilized to regulate the architectural form, position and define the spatial layout, structural form, building envelop and MEP services, facilitating mutually dependent and defined systems. Due to the highly prefabricated design and construction methods, the average number of daily workers on the site was about 80 people, which is a reduction of a third when compared with a conventional construction site of a similar scale.

The project team was faced with a number of significant structural challenges, seeing numerous of vertical components not touching the ground combined with diagonal braces. This not only means an increase in the design difficulty and workload, but also requires extra time and effort to apply for an Irregular High-rise Building Review to verify the seismic and fire safety of the building from a technical point of view. Fortunately, the complete support of the client allowed the team to follow their original aspiration to design an excellent landmark building with structural authenticity.

The Exo Towers is a testament to the power of flexibility and versatility in architecture. It is a design that not only meets the current needs of the Bank of Ruifeng but also anticipates future changes in working patterns. It is a design that is not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing, a design that is not only a building but also a symbol of the future of banking.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: United Units Architects (UUA)
Image Credits: Photographer / Lian He
Project Team Members: Yongzheng Li Tim Mason Qizhi Li Qian Lu Yanfeng Lyu Teng Jiang Liang Xu Yuan Tian Jessie Millar
Project Name: The Exo Towers
Project Client: United Units Architects (UUA)

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