Shenzhen OCT Bay | pebble & masterplan

OCT Creative Exhibition Center by Studio Pei-Zhu | Shenzhen OCT Bay
Curious to see the latest urban developments, MovingCities visited Shenzhen OCT Bay 深圳欢乐海岸 [or OCT Harbour]one of China’s largest new master planned developments currently underway. The 1.25 km2 [309 acre] plan aims to become an innovative urban center with first-of-its-kind ecological and nature components. We saw a pebble, a plaza, a water themed park, and (from afar) a recently completed Richard Meier.

What is with architects trying to design pebbles?
Is it a paradigm shift in thinking about architectural typologies (most likely not) or an easy way to create out of nothing a sense of context (most likely)? Or are pebbles’ free-flow design philosphy a way to convince clients that form can be fixed, but content can be decided upon later? In the past we saw two pebbles in Guangzhou 广州 [Opera House by Zaha Hadid Architects] and one in the city of Ordos 鄂尔多斯 [Ordos Museum by MAD Architects].

Studio Pei-Zhu 朱锫建筑设计事务所 designed the OCT Design Museum [OCT设计博物馆] now called OCT Creative Exhibition Center [OCT 创意展示中心]. The 4,000 m2 civic complex, located 300m from the shore, had no exhibition on display, so we could only take a quick peak at double height atrium lined with triangulated skylights and windows. A couple of months ago, Icon magazine profiled the building and the architect:

Studio Pei-Zhu’s design museum in OCT Bay, Shenzhen, is the centrepiece of a new seafront development that also includes Richard Meier & Partners’ Shenzhen Clubhouse [OCT HUA CLUB  华侨城华会所 (see also arcspace post)]. Beijing-based architect Pei Zhu chose the museum’s pebble-like shape, he says, because of the proximity of the ocean and so that the purity of its form would “contrast with the adjacent commercial buildings”. The weighty, metallic structure sits lightly in a public plaza. “Its footprint is very small, so it looks like the building is floating or has just landed there, as if it was not from this planet,” Pei Zhu says. The brushed stainless steel panels on the exterior are intended to “make it appear invisible, its soft reflections melting with the surroundings”.
The building’s appearance has obvious affinities with Zaha Hadid’s “blob” architecture. Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House is often likened to two enormous pebbles. Her protégé, Ma Yansong, recently unveiled his similarly blobby Ordos Museum in the Mongolian desert. But Pei Zhu sees his creation as specifically Chinese. “It takes the traditional Chinese approach of abstraction and unification of nature, and applies them to contemporary architecture,” he says.  The structure is perforated by triangular windows and skylights – “scattered randomly as if they were birds in flight” – that dapple the interior “like stars in the sky, giving depth to the infinite atmosphere”.


OCT Creative Exhibition Center by Studio Pei-Zhu | Shenzhen OCT Bay

OCT Creative Exhibition Center interiors | Shenzhen OCT Bay

OCT Creative Exhibition Center by Studio Pei-Zhu | Shenzhen OCT Bay

Besides the aforementioned OCT CreativeExhibition Center, located in the southeast corner of the park, Studio Pei-Zhu also designed the 25,000 m2 Shenzhen Tourist Information Center 深圳市旅游信息中心 and the OCT Harbour Ticket Center [additional info Shenzhen Post and China Radio International]. The structure is hailed as China’s first city-level tourist information center and described as a modern, natural facial irregular diamond-shaped structure.
Our impression [pictured below] was intensely Jürgen Mayer H.‘ish.

Shenzhen Tourist Information Center | by Studio Pei-Zhu | Shenzhen OCT Bay

OCT Bay, a project of the Overseas Chinese Town Enterprises Co [OCT 华侨城], is developed around a master plan team including project architect LaGuarda Low & Associates, who took first place on an invited international design competition by OCT Group in 2007, and designed by SWA Group – who are also responsible for the extensive collaboration on creating the eco-park and innovative wetland habitat. Both projects are part of the Shenzhen’s OCT Bay, a so-called Entertainment/Retail City-Within-a-City and located between Baishi East Road and Binhe Boulevard, south of Window of the World. Shenzhen’s OCT Bay aspires to set a new model for urban living in China – and that in the form of a 1.25 million m2 mixed-use community. Mary O’Donnell stated in an article on the development and the developer that “their motto, Give Happiness a Coast 给欢乐一个海岸 is beyond ironic.”

A short history of this development goes as following [download presentation pdf]:

January 2006 OCT acquired land on Shenzhen Bay. April 2007 the Municipal Government of Shenzhen commissioned OCT to manage the OCT wetlands covering 685,000 m2, connected to Shenzhen Bay reclamation area, it expanded to over one million square meters. May 2008 OCT Bay main projects started, which is positioned to be a brand new urban entertainment area & eco-tourist project of China with the first wetland park of the world situated in the center of city. The project will be an open space with no walls and charge no admission fee. By September 2009 the OCT Bay Investment Invitation Exhibition Center was opened. April 2010 the Happy Mall main works was completed. 2011 An exiting moment, the OCT Bay will be unveiled to the world. … As a demonstration project of OCT and Shenzhen, since the launch, the OCT Bay has received concern, support and confirmation from all levels of government, which has helped it be recognized as a Shenzhen Key Projects consecutively for three years. []

Happy Coast Cruise map | OCT Bay website

OCT Bay | A Product of Global Wisdom [download presentation pdf]

The heart of the development consists out of an urban ecological preserve, in the form of the OCT Wetland park. Its ambition is to link together the OCT theme park group, the Binhai Seaside Promenade, and the Hongshulin Mangrove Forest conservation area so to form a large scale eco-tourism complex. The 685,000 m2 wetland and nature preserve provides habitat for dozens of species [with approximately 40,000m2 of mangroves] is considered China’s only inner-city coast mangrove wetland [read more or visit web-gallery of images]. Besides, OCT Bay boasts many firsts for the country: the first international waterfront shopping complex, the first large-scale multimedia water show theatre, the first high-end cultural and commercial exhibition center, the first five-star flagship cinema [IMAX Theater ] and world-class office and hotel facilities.

This water-themed entertainment attractions include OCT Bay Water Show Theatre 欢乐海岸水秀剧场 an outdoor lagoon-arena featuring night multimedia performance [“Mangrove Groove” by ECA2: see video?] and Happy Coast Cruise [CN info/see map above]; and facilities like the Dream Aquarium 海洋奇梦馆 located at the OCT Happy Mall 欢乐海岸购物中心; and a Cineplex. Located in the southern section of the OCT Harbor Park is Coco Beach [100,000m2; 40 meters width: “China’s only inner-city man-made beach”].

Currently the area is still far from finished and under construction: the Bay Breeze Hotel, Marriot Executive Apartments, the Jacaranda International Business Center and Richard Meier’s OCT HUA CLUB  [华侨城华会所]. OCT Hua Club is advertised [check the renders] as an elegantly-designed private facility for commercial services, ecological sightseeing, fitness and relaxation.

OCT HUA CLUB 华侨城华会所 | OCT Bay Clubhouse by Richard Meier & Partners

Shenzhen OCT Bay 深圳欢乐海岸 | September 2012

Pictures by


OCT Creative Exhibition Center OCT 创意展示中心 [OCT Design Museum OCT设计博物馆]
by Studio Pei-Zhu 朱锫建筑设计事务所 [design 2008; construction 2009-2010]
address: 8 BaiShi Road East, Nanshan District, Shenzhen 518053 地址: 深圳南山区 白石路东8号
Getting there: take bus no. 101, 109, 113, 121, 123, 204, 209, 210, 222, 223, 234, M239, 310-315环 线, 311, 320, 327, 338,
Getting there: take bus no. 350, M358, 367, 369, 370, 373, 383, 390.

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