As one of China’s major manufacturing centres, Suzhou Industrial Park requires a range of financial and banking support services and the 20 storey building provides over 30,000 m2 of space for these activities. The building presents a distinctive and identifiable form within the precinct. Two slender planes of polished granite appear to support a glazed tower over a podium and frame the principal entry. The regular grid of recessed 1m x 1m windows, many of which open for ventilation, belies the building’s height which is limited to 100m by the planning controls.
Traditional Chinese architecture uses screens to frame views, filter sunlight and importantly, provide a sense of privacy whilst maintaining a strong connection to the outside. The granite screens of the China Merchant Bank achieve the same effect at both a precinct and human scale, with a sense of permanence and privacy that is so critical for a bank building. The dual wall western façade contains interconnecting stairs set within a wider section of the wintergarden. Uncommon in many Chinese commercial buildings, these have proved successful in fostering staff interaction and in changing the traditional rigid workplace environment.