Building Communities: What The U.S. Developers Should Learn From Soho China

Architecture and infrastructure behind the new developments not only aim to document the present – but also to serve the future.

By Richard Du July 10, 2017
Editorial credit: LU JINRONG /

As our world emerges into the new period of globalization and technology, some of the most important by-products of this process are buildings that have been developed in these recent years. Architecture and infrastructure behind the new developments not only aim to document the present – but also to serve the future.

The profound effect that the look of the buildings has on emotional and mental well-being of their inhabitants have long been discovered and studied. And yet, most U.S. real estate developers still tend to look at design as a purely aesthetic concept, pleasant to the eye but by no means necessary. In this regard, the U.S. developers should learn from Soho China, a forward-thinking Chinese-based real estate development company, that made revolutionary design solutions a pillar of its business philosophy.

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The company’s co-founder Zhang Xin, a renowned visionary and an inspiration for entrepreneurs all over the world, has always paid special attention to design of the structures she built in Beijing and Shanghai. Xin has been called the Steve Jobs of the architecture world and is a firm believer that aesthetically advanced architecture affects the way people live and work for the better.

“You behave in certain ways in certain spaces. If you go to a more modern space you behave differently,” she says.
A case in point would be Wangjing Soho Towers offers—a stunning project designed by Zaha Hadid and completed by Soho China in 2015. This mixed-use development consists of three towers 118, 127, and 200 meters in height and “is designed as interweaving ‘mountains’ that fuse building and landscape to bring together the surrounding community.”

The resulting structure is one of the most daring and beautiful developments in the world. Even more importantly, it encompasses Soho China’s revolutionary business vision—synergy of globalization and digitization.

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This is one of the greatest lessons that real estate developers all over the world, including America, can and should learn from Soho China. This company is building for the community of entrepreneurs and innovators. Even more importantly, it is building for the future.
It is the future, after all, that determines current construction trends. An example of one such trends would be space automatization. As the world evolves, the need for multi-functional spaces that can adapt to different users, will increase. Another important trend is high demand for flexible office spaces with large open-plan arrangements that will foster creative collaboration between employees, departments, and companies.

Paying attention to these trends and aiming to create communities, not structures, is key to building real estate of the future.
“We discovered the character of our architecture supports the culture of our time” says Zhang Xin. “What once was progress, will, one day, become a window into ancient history. What we’re building now will in the next 50 and 100 years serve that same purpose.”

Richard Du



Richard Du, founder and CEO of Agorafy, was born in Vietnam and raised in the United States. As a child, he worked to support his family until he had the chance to immigrate to the America. Here, he began his career as an agent at Helmsley Spear, which he eventually parlayed into a lucrative real estate business. More than a decade later, Mr. Du is at the helm of Agorafy.

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