Shopping small through thoughtful planning, bold strokes, and an unexpected and sophisticated take on commercial centers.
When SOHO asked us to design a mall, we re-envisioned the concept of shopping and shopping centers. Shopping centers are traditionally conceived of as commercial centers – places for and about consumerism and consumption. Picturing our favorite collection of stores and F&B outlets, and the experience and pleasure of engaging with them, led us to a design of a mall that didn’t look like a mall, but rather a home to individual shops, restaurants and bars. The design presents each brand individuality rather than collective. Our aim is: “Shopping Small” instead of “Shopping Mall”.
We avoided designing things that would read like a classic mall: balustrades that create sculptural voids, and no continuous brand banners above the stores, but rather deep floor to ceiling frames that better express the personality of the stores.
We embraced SOHO’s futuristic visions, and presented the project as a seductive bright white environment that encourages creativity and optimism.
Escalators are given mood and drama with white and chrome cladding. Their exteriors are presented like odd scaled sculptures of movement, while we clad the interiors in chrome to reflect and multiply the people inside them.
Levels are connected with spiral stairs that resemble a slide, a way to celebrate movement in space. They also double as a sculpture in the middle of the space, bringing static movement to the inner square. Chrome was used on the outsides of the balustrades. This reflects the floors in a strange and satisfying way that renders them light, and seemingly immaterial.
The access from the landscape to B1 level is done as a generous cone made of natural and untreated brass sheet that beautifully frames the buildings on the square. A grey marble floor reads simply and elegantly.
The spot lighting creates a spontaneous and vaguely mystifying environment where things can be personal and individual, rather than collective and controlled. Uneven lighting lends a private feeling to this new “Small” project.
The design is an elegant, aesthetically focused retail environment that originates from a sensitive architectural perspective, and takes a bold approach to a common place.
Client: SOHO China
Size: 11 800 sqm
Program: public area
Design Team: Vincent de Graaf, Wendy Saunders, German Roig, Zhuoran Chen, Jiao Yan