Shekou Gateway One
SPARK has completed the design of Gateway One a 71,600-square-metre mixed-use
development and transportation hub for China Merchants. Located in Shenzhen South
China the 110-metre-high, 27-storey office tower and five retail pavilions are connected
by landscaped terraces that combine to create a unique naturally ventilated retail and
business destination for the lively Skekou district of the city. The buildings sit over and
adjacent to a new transportion hub that includes a bus terminal and the Seaworld subway
Gateway One is located at the southern tip of Shenzhen on the Nantou Peninsula, an area of
outstanding natural beauty. Surrounded by water on three sides, Shekou wraps around the
verdant Danan and Xiaonan mountains. The relationship between the dramatic subtropical
coastline and its history of human intervention that generated the inspiration for SPARK’s
The architecture, landscape and interior design of the Gateway One Development were all
designed by SPARK, the design language and motifs used are consistent providing Gateway
One with a distinctive urban-garden identity.
Urban Design Concept: The City Room
The ground level of Gateway One is intentionally permeable facilitating pedestrian connections
from adjacent city streets to the heart of the development. Taking inspiration from the
Renaissance Nolli map of Rome where the boundaries between public and private spaces are
combined to expanded to create more places for people.
Spark Director Wenhui Lim comments: ‘‘Landscaped routes extend from the city into the
sunken garden, upper level terraces and event plazas within the Gateway One development,
enriching the urban experience. ‘‘ Pedestrian connections from the metro station, bus
terminal, office tower and the adjacent Shekou Seaworld development are routed through the
the porous plan of Gateway One. Physical and visual connections within and from Gateway One
have been carefully orchestrated to make an easily navigable and enjoyable experience for the
Architectural Concept: Layered Hillscape
On a broad urban scale, the office tower will be the project’s most distinctive component.
Located on the corner of Taizi and Gongye third roads the office tower rises from a new verdant
public square to a height of 27 levels marking the location of the most important commercial
and leisure destination in Shekou. The tower has been designed to provide 1100m2 of column
free flexible floorplates with full digital connectivity to meet the demands of 21st century office
users. Each office floor has full height glazing with spectacular ocean views over Shenzhen
bay with mountain views to the North.
The office tower’s base is connected to the adjacent retail pavilions physically and materially.
The linear stone and aluminium façade of the retail pavilions merges with the tower façade
anchoring the tower to the ground bringing visual continuity to the entire development. The
upper retail terrace is connected directly to the office tower at level three giving office users
year round weather protected access to the retail pavilions and supporting infrastructure.
The architecture, landscape and Interiors all work in harmony to provide the Gateway One
Development a rich layered, distinctive identity. More than just a commercial development the
project is seen as a community meeting place for Shekou , creating a premier address for
business and lifestyle.
Five conjoined retail pavilions are arranged to create convivial human scale courtyards that
are well connected to the existing city streets. Four of the pavilions are clustered together
protecting the heart of the development. The fifth pavilion an ‘‘urban lantern’’ straddles the
centre of triangular site, articulating and providing a focal point for the two courtyards. ‘‘We
have created spaces between the perimeter pavilions to connect the development directly to
the city,’’ explains SPARK Director Stephen Pimbley. ‘‘These will provide routes into and
through the retail ‘‘rooms’’ to integrate the project with the wider existing urban fabric,’’ he
The four-storey pavilions are finished in horizontally layered panels of stone and aluminium,
inspired by the rock strata of the adjacent mountains. The layering provides the project with a
rich textural and colour palette and a building scale that deliberately does not dominate but
compliments and completes the busy Shekou streets. The entry corners of the pavilions are
‘‘softened’’ encouraging pedestrian flow into and through the development. The pavilions have
continuous glazed shop fronts at ground-floor maximising retail frontage designed to animate
the city streets and courtyards.
‘‘With the retail environment flowing seamlessly into the interior courtyards at street level,
the internal scale of these ‘‘retail rooms’’ will provide an intimate experience,’’ says Stephen
Pimbley. The upper-level terraces wrap around the central lantern that opens onto terraced
intimate dining destinations. The dining terraces help the building to remain vibrant outside
the normal retail hours. ‘‘It’s a layered, open urban retail concept,’’ says Stephen Pimbley
‘‘that creates a unique environment in which to shop, work and play.’’
Landscape Concept: Flowing Hillscape
Inspiration for the landscape design is drawn from the human- scale of Shekou and the rich
natural landscape surrounding the town and the layers of rock strata of the surrounding
mountains. The synergy between indoor and outdoor space creates a seamless integration of
interior and landscape design throughout the development.
The landscape weaves through the development in harmony with the horizontally layered
architecture. It is composed of banded stone layers punctuated with metallic accent strips,
inspired by the seams of precious elements found in naturally occurring rock formations.
The perimeter landscaping softens the footprint of the building, the sculptural planters and
plant selection combined with the paving texture help moderate the building scale whilst
directing people into the development. Paving and planting are complementary in texture,
material and tone, a structure of textured landscape layers. The layers begin with the
perimeter planting facing the street, progress to the lower arrival ‘‘room’’, then rising to the
lantern terrace crowned by the green roofs of the retail pavilions.
Interior Concept: Intimate Hillscape
The unique outdoor mall concept permits continuity of the layered external façade to continue
into the interior spaces of the courtyards ‘‘retail rooms’’ The wayfinding and graphic design
options draws from the same colour palette to complement and enhance the warm natural
tones of the façade.
Contributed by SPARK
Photo © SKPhoto
Master Plan and Architecture: SPARK
Project Director: Stephen Pimbley, Wenhui Lim
Project Associates: Carlo Joson, Peter Morris
Team: Cynthia Liau, Rafal Kapusta, Lintang Wuriantari, Darmaganda, Mark Mancenido, Olivia
Wong, Fabian Ong, Paula Zheng, Arnold Galang, Natasha Hill
Client: China Merchants
Façade Consultant: Arup
Local Design Institute: Guangdong Province Design Institute Shenzhen Branch