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The tech campus boom in Shenzhen, on the central coast of southern Guangdong province, coincides with China’s trillion-dollar effort to both stimulate the economy and lay the foundations for next-generation internet technology. Photo: Martin Chan

Chinese smartphone giant Vivo is latest to splurge on tech tower

  • Vivo paid about US$182 million for the site of its new 32-storey headquarters, which will house 5,800 workers
  • US architectural firm NBBJ, designer of the new Vivo tower, said China’s tech giants have outgrown their old digs and are now seeking space to anchor a potential wave of future global expansion
China’s No 2 smartphone brand Vivo Mobile Communications has broken ground on a high-rise office in Shenzhen to house its future headquarters, highlighting a construction boom from the country’s burgeoning technology sector.

Scheduled for completion in 2025, Vivo’s 32-storey abode will house 5,800 workers and was designed by NBBJ, the architects behind Samsung Electronics’ Silicon Valley campus and Seattle’s Amazon Spheres. The new building will feature Vivo’s flagship store, indoor gardens at every level and a spiralling exterior with self-shading glass, according to the architectural firm.

Vivo joins the likes of Tencent Holdings and ByteDance in spending big on new office space – much of it in the bustling tech hub of Shenzhen — adding to a mega-building splurge at a time when economic turmoil is forcing other businesses to cut back.

WeChat operator Tencent is building an adjacent campus roughly the size of midtown Manhattan on reclaimed land in Qianhai Bay that cost the company US$1.2 billion. Vivo paid 1.3 billion yuan (US$182 million) for the site of its new headquarters and TikTok owner ByteDance recently spent 1.1 billion yuan for land in the city’s downtown area, according to the local land authority.

Chinese smartphone giant Vivo’s existing headquarters in Dongguan, an industrial city in southern Guangdong province. Photo: Facebook

Kuaishou, a YouTube-like video platform backed by Tencent, is spending 3 billion yuan on a base for its fledgling e-commerce business in Chengdu, complete with studios for live streamers hawking wares.

Some economists say building booms signal an overheated economy that precedes a crash. But NBBJ, which also designed campuses for Alphabet’s Google and Alibaba Group Holding affiliate Ant Financial Services, argues China’s tech giants have outgrown their old digs and are now merely seeking space to anchor a potential wave of future global expansion. Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.

Vivo, which began life in the midst of mobile operating system Android’s rise a decade ago, has steadily grown into a leader at home and across Asia and Europe, alongside compatriots Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi Corp. Its development encapsulates the way Chinese names have started making waves abroad.


“What we’ve seen now is part of a natural life cycle of these companies where they’ve outgrown their current facilities, and they need new ones to operationally support their growing global reach,” said NBBJ partner Robert Mankin, who is responsible for the Vivo project. “It’s increasingly rare in the US for companies to build their individual headquarters campus, and you still see it in Asia.”

Tencent plans futuristic neighbourhood in Shenzhen

The tech campus boom coincides with a trillion-dollar effort in China to both stimulate the economy and lay the networking and data centre foundations for next-generation internet technology. In terms of offices, Tencent has the most ambitious expansion plans among its peers. Dubbed Net City, its latest project includes solar panels, arrays of automated sensors, mangroves to prevent flooding and a pedestrian-friendly transport network. It will take around seven years to complete.

Tencent currently has 38,000 workers in Shenzhen, with the headcount expected to more than double in seven years, according to the local government. ByteDance has said it plans to create 40,000 new jobs this year, and the start-up has rented new offices in Hong Kong and bought a Beijing shopping plaza to convert into a workplace.

Vivo’s crosstown rival Oppo is also building new headquarters in Shenzhen. The project, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, will feature a 20-storey vertical lobby, an art gallery, shops and restaurants. Construction is expected to complete in 2025.