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Saturday, March 3, 2018

“Can we make the car an extension of the home?”

Compiled by Team IAnD
Photography: Raw Vision Studio; courtesy SHL
Read Time: 2 mins
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"Can we make the car an extension of the home?" ask Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects as they reinvent an automotive showroom on the lines of home décor and pose this question to the users. 

Electric car company NIO designs and develops high-performance, premium electric and autonomous vehicles. In the design of their new car showroom in Shanghai's high-end Taikoo Hui shopping mall, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects reinvents the traditional car showroom with a new design-centric concept that allows the consumer to understand and experience the philosophy of the brand through the space and its materiality.
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Using some of NIO’s key brand pillars such as discovery, exploration and influence, the architects envision a place a car buyer can go to, to be surprised and inspired, to touch and feel. Delving into NIO’s brand philosophy, which centres on the environment and its main elements of water, sun, earth and wind; also reflected in the company's Chinese name WeiLai, which translates to 'Blue Sky Coming', and reflects in the NIO logo, the architects utilize a material palette that brings a sense of nature, home and the future into the space.

A simple but engineered use of tactile materials is observed. Light coloured terrazzo anoints the wall and floor surfaces of the car exhibition area, which includes three types of mid-sized pebbles and creates a warm stone feeling in the space. Emphasizing the perfection that customers can find in NIO's products, the design creates a perfectly curved terrazzo surface, connecting the wall and floor seamlessly.

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"exhibition area NIO showroom SHL Architects indiaartndesign"
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In contrast, a softer material palette is chosen for the configuration area. Douglas fir wood boards and a custom-made fabric bench create an area for visitors to rest, as well as view and select various car features on the display wall that is designed with flexibility for future changes. Its calm, warm palette and precise detailing bring more focus to the displayed products.

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The ceiling, designed and detailed to conceal for a clean expression, is constructed using honeycomb panels with a finished layer of stainless steel chrome, mounted onto a custom-made hanging system. Some of these panels cloak track lighting that is integrated into the ceiling, allowing the lighting to be changed freely according to the position of the cars. A mirrored reflection creates an inception-like effect, allowing visitors to view the car from all possible perspectives.

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The highlight is the idea of the horizon that is portrayed in the ceiling, where upon entering the showroom, it grabs your sense of space. Even with the showroom full of people, the reflective ceiling allows each vehicle to be seen in its full dimension. 

The car as an extension of the home: With NIO, the architects break away from the idea of looking at the car as a cult object. Instead NIO envisions that cars will become an extension of the home, and the architects extend that concept to the car buying experience with NIO House.

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As Phase I of the intended experience, the premise that comes through is that the NIO products are sharp and technical, while at the same time, comfortable and homey. Phase II, to be completed by May 2018, will see a club-style space with a number of dedicated areas for members spread out over two levels. It will include a living room, lounge area, library, meeting space, work lab, an open kitchen, and a discovery area for children. Together with the showroom, it will become the first NIO flagship store in Shanghai. NIO House will become a space to explore, gather, relax and enjoy with the whole family -- a home away from home for the owners of NIO products.

Fact File: 
Client: NIO  
Architect: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects (now part of global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will)
Team: Chris Hardie (Partner), Rong Lu (Partner), German Roig (Project Lead), Dong Liang, Jidi Pan, Carrie Cheung
Area: Total GFA: 193m2
Location: Shanghai

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