Guangzhou International Finance Center in China by London-based Wilkinson Eyre Architects has won the RIBA 2012 Lubetkin Prize for the best new international building. Now in its sixth year, the RIBA Lubetkin Prize is awarded to the architects of the best new building outside the European Union.
The three buildings also shortlisted for the 2012 RIBA Lubetkin Prize were One KL, Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia by SCDA Architects; Solaris, Singapore by TR Hamzah and Yeang and CPG; and Sperone Westwater, Bowery, New York by Foster + Partners (previously on Bustler).
The Guangzhou International Finance Center is the tallest building designed by a British architect, anywhere in the world. Wilkinson Eyre won the competition with a slender triangular mixed use tower rising to 103 stories out of a podium containing shopping and a connection to the subway system and three levels of parking, as well as two linked smaller towers of accommodation.
The main tower is 66 floors of offices and 38 floors of a Four Seasons hotel arranged around a dramatic tapering atrium. For all the smoothness of its crystalline skin, this is a building that expresses its diagonal grid structure to the world through its glazed facades and internally to the user of every office and hotel room through the presence of raked concrete-filled steel tubes that form the structure.
The beauty of the diagonal grid is its inherent stiffness, which in turn gives it its strength. Each diamond is 54 meters or twelve stories high, reducing the amount of steel required for the construction by a remarkable 20%.
Originally planned as one of a matching pair of towers either side of a grand pedestrian boulevard leading to last year’s Lubetkin shortlisted Opera House by Zaha Hadid, it was also designed with a double skin. That fell victim to the client’s understandable desire for more floor space (and certainly the generosity of the floorplate between core and skin is one of the building’s major selling points). Instead the sun protection that a double skin would have afforded has had to be built into the glass – hence the dark grey appearance, again a distinctive merit of the finished tower.
Project Title: Guangzhou International Finance Center
Location: Guangzhou, China
Architect: Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Client: Guangzhou Yuexiu City Construction
Structural Engineer: Arup
Services Engineer: Arup
Contractor: China State Construction Corporation
Contract Value: $940.9 million
Date of completion: June 2011
Gross internal area: 380,000 sq m