Roche Diagnostics Suzhou Campus

Roche Diagnostics Suzhou is a 150,000-square-meter campus, comprising 10 buildings interspersed with gardens in the Chinese city of Suzhou. With a global master plan and architectural design by SOM, it is the first manufacturing facility in China for the Swiss-based medical diagnostics company.

The campus design takes inspiration from Suzhou's historic gardens, which are recognized on UNESCO's World Heritage list and considered masterpieces of classical Chinese landscape design. Drawing upon this local heritage, SOM planned the Roche site with a series of interconnected pathways and gardens that guide employees and visitors through the campus. Manufacturing buildings are arrayed around a modern interpretation of a classical Chinese “stroll” garden. Tranquil pools and lush green spaces, accented by rock features, are traversed by paths and bridges.

A pair of elongated buildings defines the entrance to the campus. Housing administrative space and quality control labs, these buildings seem to hover above the ground. The upper levels are articulated with horizontal glass sunshades that protect the interior from thermal gain, while also acting as light shelves to bring daylight deep into the floor plate. Throughout the campus, buildings with a material palette of white stone and light-colored metal rise above a series of “anchoring” walls of dark limestone. These design elements, characterized by white walls and charcoal grey details, reflect the historic local architecture. Built from slender blocks of limestone similar in proportion to Roman brick, the walls transform in places to become building bases, staircases, entry features, and even entire buildings. In this way, the material creates a coherent identity and sense of place throughout the campus and gardens.

The campus responds to the local environment through a series of high-performance strategies. The LEED Platinum-certified administrative building sets the benchmark, with a high-performance envelope using recycled and regionally sourced materials, onsite renewable energy, and a 100 percent reduction in potable water use.