Tencent Seafront Towers in Shenzhen, China. Courtesy NBBJ.



Tencent, the world’s third-largest Internet company, is designing a new twin-towers headquarters to be located in Hi-tech Park in the Nanshan District of Shenzhen. Thornton Tomasetti is providing façade engineering consulting services to the architect. The new towers will nearly quadruple Tencent’s current office space and will accommodate an additional 12,000 employees.

Although the design calls for 15 skin systems—unitized curtain walls, long-span glass walls, ETFE pneumatic cushion atria, and cable-net walls— Thornton Tomasetti helped take the project from concept design to design development in only seven months. Using Rhino software, Thornton Tomasetti met the challenge of designing box frames that are easy to fabricate, assemble, hoist and install. In addition, the design was developed to handle water and wind loads of a typhoon zone.

A notable architectural feature is the saw-tooth shaped box panels that cover the façade and extend outward by up to 1.5 meters from the building structure. They create a textured aesthetic and support sustainability objectives by self-shading to reduce energy consumption during the hot summer. The buildings are expected to achieve LEED Gold and to perform as a China Green Building 2 Star accredited green building.

Tencent Corporate Headquarters, Tencent
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Unsurpassed for transparency, tensegrity systems and cable-net façade structures can efficiently enclose long-span openings without the use of heavy, rigid trusses or frames. We use leading-edge software to design glass façades and roofs with minimal structure. Our extensive experience with form-finding for complex geometries, along with our practical knowledge of cable engineering and construction, places us at the forefront of this design trend.

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Our façade engineering teams advise clients on the best way to develop both conventional and innovative façade systems, applying our knowledge of structures, glazing technology, mechanical shade systems and thermal behavior. We provide design, detailing and engineering support for enclosures of any shape or size, from minimalist to high-tech. We also provide expertise in safety and security glazing, along with glass frits and reflective coatings.

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ETFE & Fabrics

The use of lightweight membrane structures can enhance design, budget and building performance – but only if their attributes are considered early in the design process. With the ability to span great distances, these systems are used in dynamic and sculptural forms and can be quickly modified to meet changing weather-related or programmatic needs by adjusting shading, thermal and aesthetic characteristics. Our façade engineering consultants are experts in the application of ETFE, fabric and tensioned membranes, from concept evaluation to integration of these lightweight systems into building skin designs.

Façade Materials & Systems

Glazing & Structural Glass

Glazing offers transparency that enhances a façade’s aesthetics and experience from both the interior and exterior. It provides light and a visual connection between the inside and outside. But designing with glass requires the deliberate balancing of light transmittance and the effects it has on energy performance and occupant comfort. Glazing design also requires careful consideration of material strength and safety. We provide a full range of design and engineering support for glazing and glass structures, from structural analyses to recommendations for aesthetics and energy performance. Our expertise in glazed-façade and structural-glass construction includes unitized aluminum frames, stick-built metal frames, steel cable supports, structural glass fin supports and glass stairs and balustrades.

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