A 127,000 sq m development in Beijing by SPARK has been awarded the winning title in the Mixed-Use category at the 2014 MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards. Vanke Jiugong is currently under construction and was recognised for its blend of retail, leisure, entertainment and office elements. The scheme was also praised for the strong urban connections and experiences it will provide once completed.
SPARK Director Jan Felix Clostermann explains: “A lot of our projects are about impacting the city with architecture - using architecture as a means of urban design. This is especially true when we design shopping malls, which traditionally completely turn their backs on the city. In the context of China, where there is very little urban public space, we typically try to extend the city into the building.”
At Vanke Jiugong, SPARK has essentially designed three ground levels. The scheme proposes a perforated and penetrable building mass of interlocking components of various scales. A base retail block (with traditional curvilinear ‘race-track’ circulation) is prised open with glazing and voids at its periphery and pierced internally by two large conical voids, which draw daylight downward into the centre of the building mass and forge visual connections between levels. A sleek white palette contributes to a seamless and flowing retail environment.
On levels four and five, these volumes terminate with a second ‘ground plane’ - a village of restaurants in an orthogonally planned zone expressed with an alternate material treatment of timber and traditional terazzo tiles. Above is a third ‘ground plane’ - an environment akin to a miniaturised business park, where small office pavilions and larger live-work towers rise from a roof garden. “Level six will be a bit like a hutong in the sky,” says Clostermann, with the fragmented open areas of the garden taking a character similar to courtyards and available for the enjoyment of office users and the wider public.
The cinema, positioned at one end of level six, will be connected to an external 24-hour circulation route that traverses the façade to allow direct access to and from the entertainment zone after shopping hours. While preventing the disconcerting experience of circulating through a ‘dead’ mall after hours, the external circulatory route will also enliven the exterior of the building, bringing vitality to its principal street façade.