Construction work has begun on PLP Architecture's International AI Research Lab in Shanghai, China.
Called Shanghai World Laureates Association Artificial Intelligence Lab, the new complex will be built as part of a district for research and innovation developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the China Association for Science and Technology and the World Laureates Forum.
Set to be located on the south side of Dishui Lake in the Lingang New Area of Shanghai, the district will house institutions and research organisations specialising in formal and natural science.
PLP Architecture was commissioned to programme and design an AI Lab situated in the heart of this community.
The design scheme is made of two volumes layered one on top of the other. While the lower volume is conceived as a flat and horizontal like "a computer motherboard", this volume supports an abstract box denoting a fundamental component of the computer – the central processing unit.
The second volume is the box, hovering over the park at the heart of the WLA campus, acts as a nerve centre of the surrounding district.
The lower volume will act as the building’s podium and foster connectivity between tenants, stakeholders, and the public.
A formal arrangement evokes a city neighbourhood in the lower volume and it contains two internal public streets creating four distinct blocks accommodating the building’s reception, restaurant, café, gallery, auditorium, as well as various meeting spaces.
These volumes' configuration, featuring curving geometries, is optimised for informal communication and collaboration.
The most important program element - the main AI Super Lab - is designed in the lower volume, a multi-storey space to able to house complex simulated environments required for big data generation.
"It is positioned at the north-eastern corner, facing towards the city, allowing the scientists to showcase their work to visitors and the local community as they approach the building," said PLP Architecture.
Other special lab is located at the second floor, arranged in a similar quadrant layout. Further amenity spaces are placed to the north on the third floor with access to the landscaped garden on the podium roof.
Above the podium, general workspaces are placed on the floating abstract box.
PLP Architecture brings together a rich ecosystem of different work and research environments around a central atrium, which overlooks the junction between the two internal streets below.
Contrasting with the fluid spaces that define the lower podium, the atrium above is articulated through a series of discrete voxels housing spaces enabling individual work: breakout spaces, focused workstations, and privacy pods.
The studio added that "In a gesture of extroversion, two large openings connect the atrium to the park and river beyond."
"These porous, transparent environments are activated through an array of amenity spaces designed to offer a wide variety of choice: communal terraces and balconies enliven the atrium at all levels, making it a vibrant place for collaboration and exchange," the office added.
PLP Architecture is working on a new vision for Tokyo Cross Park masterplan. The office is designing a new office building that will be built adjacent to the Grade II listed Holborn Viaduct, London.
All images courtesy of PLP Architecture.