Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, is rapidly transitioning towards a service-based economy and has enlisted OMA’s help in growing its local tech companies. Following an international design competition sponsored by the Chengdu government, OMA and three other high-profile studios have been chosen to master plan a Unicorn Island for startups and more established tech companies alike.

OMA has designed a campus that weaves over the entire island, with skyways that overlap and interconnect, which they call a weave. At the island’s core is the Living Lab, a domed complex with working labs that will be open to the public. Branching out from the Living Lab will be the weave, which will hold startups and “Gazelles” (tech companies worth $1 million or more). The weave has been envisioned as a community space, and OMA has described the area as “village-like” in its project description; this interior section will contain residential housing for employees, a mix of office typologies, and amenity spaces meant to foster mingling between different companies.

A model of Unicorn Island showing each distinct zone. (Courtesy OMA)

Along the island’s edge will be headquarters for the “Unicorns” (technology companies worth $1 billion or more), with room for expansion as the companies in the weave increase in value and relocate outwards.

From the renderings, it appears that the complex will be massive and extend all the way across Unicorn Island. Interestingly, everything except the waterfront headquarters will be elevated; roads will pass below the floating weave, with four courtyards set aside, one on each block.  OMA has also revealed some of the tower typologies that will be present in the weave, including a circulation tower, sports tower, education tower, and relaxation tower for the 16 cores.

The site plan is broken into programmatic layers. (Courtesy OMA)

With such a tightly-condensed campus, parking had to be moved underground. From the site plans, it seems that parking will run under nearly the entire island, with the exception of the area below the Living Lab, which will become an underground plaza.

The design of Unicorn Island was led by Chris van Duijn, OMA Partner and Director of OMA Asia. Mobility in Chain provided the traffic consultation and Transsolar acted as the climate engineer. No estimated completion date or project cost has been revealed at the time of writing.

The other three winners of the design competition include Morphosis, Foster + Partners, and a team composed of Arata Isozaki & Associates and Jun Aoki & Associates.

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