A pair hours exterior Huawei’s outdated headquarters in Shenzhen, China, the corporate has constructed a brand new campus within the metropolis of Dongguan to finally home 25,000 R&D workers. However that is no sprawling community of glass towers – it’s composed of 12 mini-districts constructed to appear to be a special European metropolis, all linked by a full-size prepare.
In different phrases, it’s rather a lot like a Disneyland for tech analysis.
Walt Disney’s well-known park is round 85 acres (0.34 sq. kilometers), however this analysis middle is 4 instances the scale at 296 acres (1.2 sq. kilometers) – which grows to 1,976 acres (eight sq. kilometers) when you embrace the factories throughout an adjoining lake. Every mini-district – allegedly referred to as ‘cities’ by some Huawei workers – has grandiose buildings, cobbled or bricked streets and landscaped greenery.
Huawei invited tech media out for an informal tour of the grounds, and TechRadar bought a close-up look. We began at a espresso store and bought on a two-car prepare in a daring orange with brass accents, trying straight out of Industrial-era Europe.
We breezed previous areas patterned after Paris, Burgundy, Heidelberg, Cesky Krumlov, and Bologna, full of ‘cities’ within the fashion of, and laid out like, every metropolis – some so giant, they could as properly be castles. It was fully spectacular, but misplaced amid the luxurious Chinese language flora and the shabby residential high-rises within the distance.
The impact was surreal – a dizzying dissonance between carefully-constructed medieval and Renaissance European buildings that will nonetheless perform as on a regular basis workplaces. Every member of our media group stared agog as we took the lengthy orange prepare past the finished ‘cities’ (seven of twelve are work-ready, 5 years after development began ) to get a way of the set up’s scale.
We have been left with the plain query: Why?
Huawei’s office ‘Disneyland,’ a brand new middle of analysis
Or to reframe the inquiry: why not simply make a contemporary glass-and-grass campus like the opposite tech titans? Our information defined the philosophy behind the Dongguan facility: Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei wished workers to work in a spot they discovered peaceable, which is a far cry from the busy metropolitan sprawl in Shenzhen or Dongguan.
If true, that sentiment – and the sheer assets spent to convey this city-replicating imaginative and prescient into actuality – evokes the whimsy and dedication Walt Disney swirled collectively to make Disneyland. “Right here age relives fond reminiscences of the previous, and right here youth might savor the problem and promise of the long run,” Disney famously mentioned on the park’s opening in 1955 in a short dedication.
Sixty-odd years later, these phrases may unusually apply to Huawei’s Dongguan R&D campus.
On our go to, tech media have been launched to the corporate’s myriad functions of its tech, from augmenting current industries with 5G to creating cities ‘good’ with sufficient sensors to observe energy consumption, air high quality, and even the capacities of particular person trash cans. And, sure, streamlining the networks behind safety digital camera programs (to assist lacking kids and crowd management, a Huawei tour information mentioned) in addition to networks (and generally chips) behind facial recognition software program.
After all, the corporate’s tech improvements aren’t simply made in Dongguan: that still-unfinished facility is one among 16 world R&D facilities. 9 of them are in China, however whereas the others have round 10,000 workers every, the Dongguan set up will home round 25,000 as soon as it’s completed – mixed, the R&D contingent is over half of Huawei’s 188,000 workers.
However these different R&D amenities weren’t constructed as a paean to culturally vital European cities. It’s unclear if the Dongguan campus was constructed so extravagantly to lure workers or to fulfill the eccentric whims of higher workers (if not Zhengfei himself) – or each, or neither. What is obvious: if this was constructed within the US, it might be soundly criticized as a needlessly ornate and costly feat of engineering – similar to Disneyland had been earlier than it confirmed up its critics.