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Unicorn Island’s first building nears completion

The building is the first on the 67-hectare island.

January 23, 2020 |
Unicorn Island aerial

All renderings courtesy MIR

China has become home to a third of the world’s “unicorn companies,” technology start-ups valued at over a billion US dollars, with Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, developing into a hub where the computer chips for half the world’s laptops are produced. The area is also a leading producer of mobile hardware. The Tianfu New Area area to the south of the city is now being developed as an ecologically sustainable civic, business, and residential center for China’s technology and research sectors.

Dubbed Unicorn Island, the Zaha Hadid-designed master plan is well underway as its first building, the Start-Up exhibition and conference center, nears completion. The firm did not release many details about the exhibitions center, but did release a new video showcasing the building in its yet-to-be-completed form.



The 67-hectare master plan will help foster the continued growth of China’s digital economy. The mixed-use master plan for 70,000 researchers, office staff, residents, and visitors will include integrated clusters of buildings that surround the island’s central plaza and metro station. The radial layout enables the entire island to be accessed quickly via walking or by bike and newly developed green civic spaces will be interspersed with the building clusters.


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Unicorn Island building cluster


As part of the project, wetlands of the Tianfu New Area will be reestablished and will serve as water conservation, flood control, and recreation area. Unicorn Island will incorporate natural water management systems and innovations in urban farming technologies to provide residents, workers, and visitors with fresh, locally grown produce.

While the first structure on the island is nearing completion, Zaha Hadid has not released a completion date for the island as a whole.


Unicorn Island building


Zaha Hadid's Unicorn Island


Unicorn Island building close up


Unicorn Island green civic space

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