by Michele Koh Morollo on Mar 20, 2014 in Architecture
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Sited on the north bank of the Pearl River, the 138m-tall Guangzhou Circle Mansion is defined by a vast, 50m void at its centre

“The skyscraper is really famous only if it’s the tallest building in the world, but it’s a temporary record because in a few years someone else will build another building taller than yours,” observes Joseph Di Pasquale of AM Project, the Milanese architect who designed Guangzhou Circle Mansion — the doughnut-shaped headquarters of Guangzhou chemical and energy company, HongDa XingYe Group and the venue of the Guangdong Plastic Exchange, the largest raw plastic material stock exchange in the world.

“To find a way to stand out without becoming the tallest building is a direction worth taking, because sooner or later, we will have to stop going up in height.”

Sited on the north bank of the Pearl River, the 138m-tall Guangzhou Circle Mansion is defined by a vast void at its centre, measuring 50m in diameter. A total of 85,000 sq-m of gross space is arranged around this void over 33 floors, which presently consists of retail and office spaces as well as the Guangdong Plastic Exchange directly below the void. Parking spaces are located beneath the building, while a helipad sits atop the structure.

Completed in December 2013, the building was designed with two architectural goals in mind: it needed to be an international landmark that would stand out from other buildings, and it needed to be relevant to Chinese culture. The result is a circular edifice inspired by ancient Chinese jade discs.

The client, HongDa XingYe Group’s CEO Zhou Yi Feng, wanted a building that would be a symbol for his company as well as for the city of Guangzhou, and embody a perfect union between eastern and western culture. “Every work of architecture, like art, doesn’t arrive from functional considerations, but always from the need for beauty, a need embedded in the human soul. I thought about what Mr Zhou wanted, and the words ‘symbol’ and ‘culture’ started to churn in my mind,” says di Pasquale.