Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza
by amphibianArc


Californian firm amphibianArc was inspired by images of spacecrafts to come up with two different skyscraper proposals for the headquarters of a Chinese machinery company in Changsha (+ slideshow + movies).

Above: option one - single tower

The designs, for industrial vehicle manufacturer Zoomlion, were commissioned following amphibianArc's previous proposals for a shape-shifting exhibition centre to host the company's exhibitions and product displays.

Above: option two - twin towers

Both new proposals feature skyscrapers that are 199.2 metres in height, in reference to the founding year of the company; 1992.

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Above: option one - single tower

The first design includes one prominent office tower, with seven spacecraft-inspired pods protruding from one side. "Seven spacecrafts represent seven founders of the enterprise," amphibianArc's Shu Yang told Dezeen.

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Above: option one - single tower

Five additional buildings of between 80 and 100-metres would be constructed around the tower, while a small "transformer building" would sit at the base.

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Above: option one - single tower

Just like the architect's previous project, this structure would feature a facade that flaps like the wings of a huge insect.

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Above: option one - single tower

The second design is for a pair of skyscrapers, including an office tower and an accompanying 280-metre hotel.

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Above: option two - twin towers

The architects based the design on an image of a rocket launching from alongside its supporting structure. "The twin towers scheme is inspired by the spacecraft, the Long March Carrier Rocket, that China just launched using the crane manufactured by Zoomlion," explained Yang.

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Above: option two - twin towers

The hotel is pictured with a streamlined exterior, while the headquarters building is designed as a stack of box-like structures with an exposed steel framework that references scaffolding. A bridge would add a vertiginous swimming pool to the top of the towers, plus a five-storey podium would stretch across the base.

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Above: option two - twin towers

Our earlier feature about the design's for Zoomlion's exhibition centre was described as "extravagant", "dangerous" and "breathtaking" by readers. See the full story and comments »

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Above: option two - twin towers

Also this month, we announced the news that the world’s tallest building will be constructed in China in 90 days, while Chinese architects told Dezeen that there is "an absence of a modern Chinese architecture and design language".

See more stories about skyscrapers »
See more stories about China »

Here's project descriptions for each of the two proposals:

Zoomlion is one of China’s leading manufacturers of construction machinery equipment and is ranked top 10 globally in the construction machinery industry. amphibianArc was invited to design its new headquarters located in Changsha, China. Our criterion is to match its forward thinking, unique, and mechanistically imaginative corporate image and values.

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza - Single Tower

This scheme uses the multi-level and multi-centre space layout strategy, achieving the goal of multi-function and multi-target. 280 m ultra high rise single tower as the highest point of the massing, the scheme proposes 5 towers of 80-100 m and a podium to form an enclosed space. The structure of the conference facilities falls back on the 199.2 m ultra-high tower, which represents the founding year of 1992 of Zoomlion. A water feature suspended at the vertical midpoint of the tower represents the spiritual and architectural center of the complex. The most visible feature in the scheme is the "seven spacecraft" - seven pods representing the seven founders of Zoomlion.

2012, Changsha, China
Project area: 344,250 sq m
Site area: 111,389 sq m
Status: Concept

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza by amphibianArc

Zoomlion Headquarters International Plaza - Twin Towers

The philosophical concept of dualism is embedded in the nature of Zoomlion. As a machine maker, the characteristics of Zoomlion are masculine, machinery and full of industrial power. However, the end products produced via Zoomlion machines that will be used by the general public is refined and people-friendly. This duality is intrinsic to Zoomlion’s existence.

From the project itself, the office for internal use represents the company, while the hotel for external use is associated with its external image. This characteristic of duality is expressed in two distinct design schemes concepts with two distinct articulation of architectural forms.

The twin towers are representing the idea of the dualism. The office tower which is 199.2 m in height is the symbol of Zoomlion. The geometry of the building is form by massing spin around along with the core of the building. Volume of the spinning massing varies and creates a masculine, machinery look of the tower. There is a bridge that connects two towers to top floors of office tower. Refined and elegant geometry of hotel tower that is 280 m tall is contrast with the rough texture and geometry of the office tower. The image is a vivid simulation of the space shuttle tied up to the launching pad of space center. This image emphasizes the industrial strength of Zoomlion product.

The podium of the twin towers is a huge elevated platform that contains more than five floors. The elevated platform is support by giant trapezoid shape structural columns. It is a floating platform hanging over the campus and open up the ground for public spaces and landscaping. More substantially, podium floor plates reach far for a panoramic view of the city. Because of the floating podium, the footprint of the building decreases substantially and frees up the space for a park-like green campus.

2012, Changsha, China
Project area: 283,000 sq m
Site area: 111,389 sq m
Status: Concept

  • Marc

    This is not even funny anymore, really.

  • Pluk vd Petteflet

    I like the brown towers in the first proposal. They have a futuristic look and I can imagine them built en masse (if they’re cheap).

    The irregular tower in the second option vaguely resembles MVRDVs proposal in Jakarta (is there some sort of a new trend with these piling structures like a counter-revolution to the organic and fluid lines of Hadid?)

  • chunkbutler

    I love option 1 but option 2 looks a bit derivative – plenty of untidy, stacked-box masses around.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Looking at option 1 causes me to think about Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo.

  • Dave Gronlie

    I suspect the building will lose a lot of its impact once several other towers spring up around this project.

  • Paul

    Love the organic sci-fi aesthetic of the first concept. Refreshing change from the 90 day lego box.

  • The building version of the Alien face-hugger.

  • Serge

    With such soundtracks, I was surprised not to see a nuclear submarine re-surface in the first clip or the glass tower take off into space in the second one. All jokes aside: looking so hi-tech, why aren’t these schemes promoting green architecture where, for example, pods could have been developed into electricity-generating wind turbines or collectors of rainwater for park irrigation?

  • Catherine Bauer

    Stop! Please just stop!


    They’d have spent their time better doing one good design instead of two crappy ones.

  • Hayden

    Look at it this way – China in 100 years will be a fascinating place to visit. A veritable collection of global Architectural Imperialism.

  • internautas

    What’s wrong with you people? There has to be a better way to find competent people who decide which architecture can be built and which not.

  • Adalbert

    The proposal #1 video is one of the most awkward things I’ve seen in long time. It’s like some second-grade 2005 computer game opening. The evil house-bird transformer thing with that music (still can’t believe they actually used it). Seriously? Is this what architecture should be about? Or is it that the client is an evil villain from the late 1990s with absolutely no self-reflection and perspective, and you just don’t care?

  • dlk

    That music is so wrong for this.

    • Marc

      Do you really think that only the music is wrong?

  • Rich

    I actually kinda like it.

  • themotherinlawskitchen

    Option 1 reminds me of going for a smear test.

  • Fizz

    I've discovered amphibianArc's offices are literally next door to Hollywood in LA, which to me says it all.

  • Shane

    The mechanical looking thing coming out from the cracked vagina is… painful. And I don’t understand why the eagle is stuck in the box. I like the metaphor of the machine coming out from an organic form, but the surrounding towers and the wings are just too much.

  • Man oh man! Since when did Chinese farmers change topic, first they’re in the game industry now they are also in architecture, WTF!

    My experience with the farmers in the game industry was horrifying, they will f*** it up! It will not be fun, the imbalances of their influence is out of imagination it will result in crying. There will be a lot of unhappy people!

    Think! So who will be the architect of tomorrow? If not an architect himself (one who is certified), then does it make sense to study and waste time and money on related architecture study? If so I better ask for a refund and quit my final year immediately!

    Looking at this I feel like: tomorrow is the LEGO of reality, every single powerful man can do it!


  • Romain

    They seem to want to make a bold statement about their identity (199.2 metres high to commemorate the creation of the firm, 7 pods in reference to the founding members).

    Yet, they muddle their messages by merging two building typologies in a single sprawling project. The two different soundtracks (inappropriate but I don’t really care) actually show how ambivalent the symbolism of the project really is.

    If the main organic tower is the focus point of the project, why not approach the other buildings in a simpler style? These architects are just encouraging the “ornament and crime” crowd.

    In the same way “bokeh” can actually complement a photo’s subject, the adjacent buildings should serve as a canvas for the organic tower to be correctly appreciated. Furthermore, they could actually create a sort of “non-aedificandi zone” that will protect the main building from encroaching future projects.

  • blah

    OMG! One building appears to be raping that other building!

  • janice

    The name should be “zombie” headquarters. This kind of design looks raw and messy, especially the second tower of the twins, which does not look sophisticated.


    OMG, the bird building!

  • Excuse me while I vomit.

  • Megatron

    I thought the first one was gonna transform further into Optimus Prime.