UN Studio proposes new urban gateway filled with light and greenery for Shenzhen East Transport Hub

International practice, UN Studio has revealed their proposal for new Shenzhen Airport East Integrated Transport Hub. Submitted in consortium with Atkins, the proposal seeks to develop a new urban gateway for the city of Shenzhen.

Sponsored by China National Railway Corporation Limited and Shenzhen Municipal People's Government, the project is undertaken by Shenzhen Metro Corporation Limited as the tenderer. The brief called for an integrated vision to create a new intermodal transport hub for the Greater Bay Area.

BEZIER | Urban Aerial
BEZIER | HUB Street East
UN Studio | Concept diagram
UN Studio | Outdoor - Indoor Green
PLOMP | Central Plaza
PLOMP | Terminal Garden

The proposal ‘Wings of Shenzhen’ is designed with operational efficiency and future flexibility in mind, with ability to accommodate future changes in transport and use of space. The hub design opens the front of the building to the city, and creates a dialogue between the internal and external spaces. The design aims to maximise greenery by bringing the landscape inside, at the same time using it as a wayfinding element, connecting Shenzhen seamlessly with its new front door.

“The Wings of Shenzhen is a flash-forward into the future, connecting sustainable forms of mobility and people, and creating an infrastructure for the city and its people to thrive. We envision the integrated hub as a vibrant part of the city of Shenzhen, providing focus and regeneration of the district and seamless connectivity to national and international destinations. By linking the physical and the digital we create a sense of place and facilitate the intuitive and efficient flow of passengers,” explains Ben van Berkel, Founder, UN Studio.

Berkel continues, “The Wings will be more than simply a place to transfer. It is a highly-recognisable public space destination that invites, connects and guides people from the multiple hub modalities into the city, and vice versa: a new urban gateway."

BEZIER | Terminal Facade
UN Studio | Section
UN Studio | Axonometric diagram
PLOMP | Ticketing
PLOMP | Pearl Interior
BEZIER | Terminal Void
BEZIER | HSR Platform
BEZIER | Aerial View

Main element of any transport hub is its clarity of circulation and this proposal is no different, with primary vertical circulation split between the two main levels, expressing itself as the central plaza. The main hall is meant for departure and arrival and provides users multiple transport options to connect with the city and other destinations through plane, train, metro, bus, bike and autonomous vehicles. The hall also acts as the social heart of the design, with strong retail programming acting like a marketplace, a place for people to meet and even acting as a destination within the Greater Bay Area.

One of the main design elements of the Hub is its roof.  The iconic silhouette of the roof is composed of a lightweight, modular structure with scalar transparency, integrated solar shading and building integrated PV cells.

PLOMP | HUB Aerial Night View
BEZIER | Central Plaza
UN Studio | Skylight diagram
UN Studio | Roof Modules Type
UN Studio | Roof Module Axo
BEZIER | Internal View

The proposal takes a human-centric approach that uses light and greenery as natural guides and transforms often sterile and mechanical transport hubs by softening the threshold between Nature and manmade.

The winning proposal was awarded to a team led by Grimshaw Architects following an assessment by a bid evaluation committee of 13 experts in urban planning and design, architectural design, aviation, railway, urban rail, and integrated transportation



Client: Shenzhen Metro Group Co. Ltd                              
Shenzhen, China
Building surface Hub:
340,240m2 (excl 90,000m2 HSR station) 
T1: 248,514m2
Masterplan North plot: 310,658m2
Masterplan South plot: 203,525m2
Site Area: Urban Site area: 1,176,000m2, PTI Site area: 807,000m2
Programme: Multimodal, incl High-Speed Rail station, Metro, Airport, Bus            
Status: Competition entry
Credits: UNStudio: Ben van Berkel, Astrid Piber with Marc Salemink, Sontaya Bluangtook and Enrique Lopez, Pauline Caubel, Dichao Wang, Heeyoun Kim, Nina Soltani, Alba Pelaez, Yuting Qian
Design Lead: UNStudio and Atkins, 
Transportation planning: BMEDI
Local Architect and Engineering: BIAD
Visualisations by: Bezier and Plomp



UNStudio, founded in 1988 by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, is an international architectural design network with four full-service international offices in Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Dubai. We specialise in architecture, interior architecture, product design, urban development and infrastructural projects.

Over 200 staff from 27 countries are spread throughout the network in a streamlined structure that enables us to spend less time organising and more time designing and collaborating with our clients.

UNStudio’s current management team consists of Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Gerard Loozekoot, Astrid Piber and Hannes Pfau, closely supported by a strong group of long-term directors and associate directors.