Dream, Connect and Collaborate in Tencent’s futuristic Net City

NBBJ is designing the city which makes Tencent the latest tech giant to join the likes of Google and Apple.

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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China’s biggest internet firm, Tencent will be creating a 2 million square meters integrated smart city called Net City in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. 

The firm has already chosen award-winning architectural firm NBBJ to design the city which aims to “re-envision the urban environment” and is scheduled to commence construction by the end of 2020.

In the next two years, Tencent’s infrastructure including existing assets and rented facilities would be unable to meet its office space demands. The organization held an international architecture competition in 2019 to create a master plan for Dachanwan’s 320-acre peninsula that includes a number of public amenities.

NBBJ will work on designing the city by giving priority to the environment and people.

“What happens when you bring one of the world’s largest tech companies and one of the world’s most innovative architecture firms together to re-envision the future of cities?” asked Jonathan Ward, design partner at NBBJ.

Jonathan Ward
Design Partner at NBBJ

“The answer is Net City, built entirely from the ground up to reflect the distributed network of the internet itself. Inter-connected, integrated, organic and welcoming, Net City is designed to be a place where people can dream, come together as a community to connect and create new possibilities for the future.”

He resumed: “A typical city calls for simplistic and efficient zoning to keep everything under strict control and facilitate the flow of goods, cars and people. “This principle was driven by a love for the industrial age machine. In today’s computer-driven world, we are free to imagine a highly integrated city that brings ‘work, live, play’ closer together to foster more synergy between people. This fits in perfectly with the collegial, collaborative culture of Tencent.”

Net City will not have the distractions of motor vehicles and the pollution, noise and speed that comes with it. It will be an open campus with public amenities via subways, ferries and bike paths.

The City is estimated to be the shape and size of midtown Manhattan, with the Tencent building at the center and the amenities like schools, retail spaces and others for the convenience of their employees.

Sustainability will drive the architecture of the city: buildings on the rooftop will feature photovoltaic panels, and sensors will monitor environmental efficiency and flooding. The transport strategy prioritizes access to public transit, bicycles and pedestrians. The plan also fulfills the goals of the Chinese Sponge City Initiative by storing water on campus, controlling erosion and floods and mangrove water.

Along with Huawei, Baidu and other big Chinese technology firms, this people-and-environment-first architecture strategy is the biggest yet for a tech business smart campus. Unlike several other tech giant campuses, the open spaces of Net City and the business, transit, and entertainment areas will be open to the public.

Analysts PwC predicts that the global market for smart cities will surpass $2.5 trillion by 2025, with smart solutions providers contributing to $987 billion of that market, while professional services in smart cities will generate to $277 billion.