TikTok Parent Company, ByteDance, Reveals New HQ in Shenzhen

Ennead Architects's international competition winning design for ByteDance’s Houhai Center in Shenzhen, China provides the multinational tech company with flexible, dynamic work environments.

What’s Happening: Ennead Architects wins the international competition to design the Houhai Center in Shenzhen, China, the new global headquarters for ByteDance, more commonly known as the company that owns TikTok. The 674,000-square-foot tower will be located in the city’s southern district where many of Shenzhen’s tech companies are based, at the intersection of the main greenbelt of the Houhai commercial area.

The Download: The New York firm’s proposal is visually and programmatically designed for digital and physical connection—a holistic alignment with the company’s media products. The layout is centered around an interior framework of extended floor plates, which intentionally blur the line between inside and outside. Sightlines amidst floors and floor-to-ceiling windows are intended to foster collaboration and flexibility while the energy-efficient exoskeleton will provide diffused daylight into the interior. With sweeping views of nearby Shenzhen Bay, the roof gardens and lush terraces are meant to promote social interactions and creative collisions among the ByteDance employees.

News of the tech giant’s upgraded digs comes as a peculiar saga in U.S.-China relations is drawing to a close. Last year, Trump took a hard stance against TikTok, deeming it a threat to national security because of its access to user data, essentially forcing it to divest its U.S. holdings. Last week, however, the ongoing deal negotiations with Oracle and Walmart were temporarily shelved—likely because Biden isn’t enforcing Trump’s ultimatum.

In Their Own Words: “The pursuit of innovative media is at the core of the ByteDance mission, whose communication platforms embrace creative exchange and the sharing of human experiences and ideas,” said Peter Schubert, FAIA Design Partner, Ennead Architects. “We developed a design that expresses the essence of that mission, taking inspiration from the bits and bytes of computer science, which are ultimately expressed as elements in an undulating rhythm on the façade of a building that is programmed to support communication, curiosity, and collaboration. We thought of the tower as an algorithmic-shaped vessel contained within a sun-shading eco frame.”

Surface Says: We believe the appropriate term of art for Ennead’s design is bussin’.

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