Alibaba Headquarters(HQ) in Shanghai - Scale Magazine

Design of Alibaba HQ showcases the Working Culture of the ECommerce Giant

Foster + Partners who won the competition to design the new offices for Alibaba – the Chinese e-commerce company – in Shanghai emphasised a form derived using a genetic algorithm that reiterates the power of communication.

Situated at Xuhui Riverside – a new, vibrant part of Shanghai – the Alibaba HQ building boasts of stunning views of the Huangpu River and the Pudong CBD. The building is formed around a central heart that opens up to create a large public urban room, inviting people in. This creates an active social core, with viewing terraces overlooking the central space as well as the building’s principal entrances opening onto it. The building is designed to be extremely transparent, allowing people a glimpse into the world of Alibaba as well as preserving views to the outside.

Alibaba Headquarters(HQ) in Shanghai - Scale MagazineLuke Fox, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners said: “We are delighted to be designing the new Shanghai offices for Alibaba, the world’s largest online retailer and e-commerce company. Our design emphasises the importance of communication, the integrity of the working community and above all, the creation of an image that reflects the standing of Alibaba. The scheme is truly designed from the inside out, centered on a dynamic, sheltered public space capitalising on its amazing location with its views of the Huangpu River and the Bund.”

The unique building form has been guided by an innovative design process that uses a genetic algorithm to evolve the optimal massing. The algorithm combines several aspects that are crucial to the project such as, being highly responsive to the environmental conditions, maximising outside views, and the specific area requirements for different functions, to create the most appropriate form. The design optimizes the massing to provide the best year-round user comfort in the central public space, protecting it from strong winter winds and the harsh summer sun, while creating tailored workspace solutions for the different departments at Alibaba.

Alibaba Headquarters(HQ) in Shanghai - Scale MagazineThe desk arrangements, break-out spaces, and meeting rooms are all carefully considered to encourage collaboration and teamwork. Visual and physical connectivity will encourage interactions. Natural light and external spaces animate the workspaces and create a more focused and engaged workforce. Following a modular approach, the design will utilize off-site production for quality control, reducing wastage, and minimizing on-site operations to create an efficient construction program.


Project Name: ALIBABA HQ

Client: Alibaba

Design Studio: Foster + Partners

Status: Foster + Partners who won the competition to design the new offices for Alibaba

Location: Shanghai, China.

All Images courtesy Foster + Partners