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Sunday, December 27, 2015

SPARK-ing urban connections!

By Rutvi Ashar
Photography: Courtesy the architect

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Inverting the shopping-mall typology, SPARK studios design the Vanke Jiugong project, Beijing - an interesting blend of retail, leisure, entertainment, and office programmes...


An insert into a rapidly redeveloping suburb in Beijing, this mixed-use project incorporates the city as a close-knit campus. In a city pressed for space, positive and negative areas are not welcome; this design makes incredible use of not only the interior spaces but also the outdoors that are a result of the architectural cantilevers. Landscaped courts, rooftop gardens, urban-scale water features and a façade incorporating a circulation route act as lively public zones, thus promoting horizontal as well as vertical movement of users.

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The developer as well as the architect has reintroduced the model of a shopping mall allowing a wide spectrum of users to experience the spaces. The skilful arrangement of activity levels segregate user groups. Retail, F&B, entertainment and office spaces are thus designed into perforated and penetrable building masses of interlocking components of various scales that are enveloped by a double façade including a layer of sinusoidal corrugated perforated aluminium screens; where the latter adds openness and assists in the vertical street-life concept.

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Various entry points break the large architectural mass; hence the structure does not over power the user. Glazing and large cylindrical voids filter in daylight and connect the interior spaces with the outdoors - a feature typically lacking in shopping malls. A strong visual as well as physical connect is provided by a pedestrian bridge that connects this development to the nearest railway station.

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This design essentially in its concept wins the appreciation of a regular mall goer; the strategies incorporate the culture of the consumer and aptly provide for the needs of the city. It is no wonder that this award-winning firm captures the essence of Beijing shopping, entertainment, office and social life into a single multi-use project.

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