Compiled by Pari Syal
Information: Courtesy SPARK
Photography: ShuHe; courtesy SPARK
Architecture and fashion have a long standing relationship; but actually incorporating the textile weave in a building façade is another thing...
SPARK’s ‘pleated’ and ‘woven’ façade for the award-winning mixed-use development Jing Mian Xin Cheng in Beijing demonstrates that depth of experience need not be forgotten despite the speed of the central city’s expansion. ‘Pleats’ of perforated aluminium sheeting and a ‘weave’ of rippling windows resolve a variety of practical issues, while referencing a textile market that formerly operated on the site.
Winner of a ‘Best Office and Business Development’ accolade at the MIPIM Asia Awards 2013, the development consists of two office towers and a retail podium immediately adjacent to the road, with a protected public plaza to its rear. Given that the massing of the blocks was predicated and constrained by the sunlight requirements of a residential development to the north of the site, SPARK’s work focused on the detailed design of the façade and landscape.
Drawing inspiration from the former presence of a textile market, SPARK Director Jan Felix Clostermann informs, “The pleating and weaving effects emerged from the visualization of the façade as pieces of three-dimensional fabric rather than paper-thin curtain walls.” Pleats of perforated aluminium sheet establish a heavily textured façade for the retail podium, while angular ‘threads’ of glazing adhere to a weaving logic that slowly dissolves as it progresses upward.
The ‘thickened’ façade performs a number of functions beyond enclosure. Not only does it offer acoustic protection to the interior - a prime reason why the weave effect on the towers is concentrated at the lower levels, fading out with height; but engages with the interior by sculpting new habitable zones at the building’s edge.
Simultaneously, the woven glazing allows small side openings for natural ventilation, solving a widely prevailing problem of windows being very large, heavy, top-hung panels, not only difficult to operate but also prone to falling. The extremities of the ‘weave’ serve an additional function as easily accessed light boxes for night-time illumination of the building. In a similar vein, SPARK’s landscape design for the plaza establishes a habitable topography of folds on the horizontal plane, where the ground folds up to create seating, and to demarcate different zones in the plaza for different activities. This continuation of the theme in the landscape design assures a pedestrian experience as impactful as the visual experience of the passing motorist.
The award-winning international design studio once again establishes its signature style that focuses on architecture’s potential to contribute positively to the experience of the city, while addressing the pragmatic issues that govern each project.