Foster + Partners has won a competition to redesign e-commerce company Alibaba’s offices in Shanghai as a giant grid.

With a central heart that opens up to create an ‘urban room’, where viewing terraces and platforms overlook the central space – an active social core is at the forefront of this design.

The offices will be alongside a large public space that will allow the near passerby to observe the working culture from the outside.

Foster + Partners, head of studio, Luke Fox says the scheme is designed to be centred on a dynamic, sheltered public space capitalising on its location and views of the Huangpu river and the bund.

“Our design emphasised the important of communication, the integrity of the working community and above all, the creation of an image that reflects the standing of Alibaba.”

In an effort to reduce waste, the design will utilise off-site production, including the grid which will be manufactured off-site before built to overlook Pudong Central Business District.

The grid will be derivative of genetic algorithms to evolve the optimal massing, mimicking a type of algorithm often used in computer science.

“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.”

It is anticipated that the focus on visual and physical connectivity will encourage interactions, while natural light and external space animate the workspaces and create a more focused and engaged workforce.