WeChat Unveils Plans for Shenzhen Tech City


WeChat owner Tencent is forging ahead with plans for masterplanned commercial district in the Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen.

Architect NBBJ has unveiled concepts for the ambitious city-within-a-city. The firm had previously designed Tencent's global headquarters.

The 2 million square metre development, planned along the city's Dachanwan Port will prioritise pedestrians, green space and self-driving vehicles.

Designed to accommodate a population of approximately 80,000 people, the site will primarily serve the Chinese internet and gaming giant which has plans for a new headquarters in the city.

Other buildings across the masterplanned city site will reach up to 30-storeys in height.

The initial masterplan features shopping centres and schools and will be connected to the rest of Shenzhen via road bridges, ferries and the city's exisiting subway system.

Net City Shenzen Tencent NBBJ
▲ Architecture firm NBBJ won an international design competition to produce a scheme for the site. Image: NBBJ

“As Tencent continues to grow its business and number of employees, its current properties and leased office spaces will not be able to meet its office needs in the next few years,” NBBJ partner Jonathan Ward said.

NBBJ, which won an international competition to design the site, said its central theme of work, live and play and different approach to the the car's role in urban planning helped it over the line.

Ward said it hoped the new district's entertainment venues, parks and waterside promenade will attract visitors from elsewhere in Shenzhen.

Tencent now outranks Alibaba as Asia's largest company, after shares in the company rose nearly 5 per cent to a record HK$497.40. The internet giant is now worth US$613 billion, making it the seventh largest company globally.

Its WeChat App has continued to grow with monthly active users sitting at 1.2 billion, although it still trails Facebook's globally focused WhatsApp with 1.6 billion and Messenger service with 1.3 billion.

Tencent's newer fintech and business services unit, which includes its banking, payments and fintech investment division, has also seen it grab a $300 million stake in Afterpay which has been growing strongly in Australia since launching two years ago.

The Shenzhen-based tech giant isn't the only private company looking to create its own miniature city.

Earlier this year, carmaker Toyota unveiled plans for the 70-hectare site in the foothills of Mount Fuji, and Sidewalk Labs a subsidiary Google's parent company Alphabet, is planning to transform a stretch waterfront in Toronto.

Cryptocurrency millionaire Jeffrey Berns has also sounded out plans for a 27,000-hectare site in the Nevada desert where he hopes to build a new community based of a centralised blockchain infrastructure.

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