Designing the 'super city'

Wednesday 16 Nov 2011

Sparch unveils plans for large urban shopping mall in north west Beijing

With rapid economic growth, Beijing city has become increasingly crowded in the last few years, encouraging urban migration to suburban satellite towns located around the capital. Where satellite towns are commonly viewed as mere commuters' hubs with little retail activity, the client seeks to provide richer entertainment experiences for the residents.

Vanke Super City is a 100,000 sq m shopping mall located in the satellite town of Changping that lies 50 km north of the Forbidden City. Sparch is given an opportunity to rethink the conventional mould of a ubiquitous shopping mall; in the typical mall where entertainment and F & B is located at the top levels, customers patronising these shops would have to navigate difficult journeys through darkened shopping spaces and secondary exits after standard shopping hours.

So Sparch proposes a win-win design solution for Vanke Super City's shoppers and retailers, by introducing two separate retail circulation routes - a 12-hour daytime route and a 24-hour route. The design incorporates the daytime retail programs - shops and department stores - into the mall typology with an interwoven 12-hour route forming the mass of the podium architecture.

Circulation routes and terraces are carved out of the podium, facilitating access to the elevated rooftop courtyard, around which interlocking boxes create a visually dynamic entertainment destination containing the 24-hour functions (e.g. cinemas, KTV, restaurants).

When the daytime retail functions have closed for the day, customers are provided with an alternate outdoor animated route lined with shops and terraces snaking along the podium façade (24-hour route). This increases the extent of shop frontage along the streetscape and generates valuable visual connections.
In the spirit of Archigram's ‘Moving Cities' and Rogers and Piano's Pompidou Centre, the outdoor escalators along the façade express movement and energy. The façades of Vanke Super City are articulated using a varied palette of materials in layered bands reminiscent of folded geological plates.

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