A multi-faceted destination

Nick Myall
Thursday 22 Jun 2017

Lane189 in Shanghai combines retail, restaurant and office spaces in an organisation that rearranges the typical mall into a vertical city centre

Designed by UNStudio, Lane 189, located in the Putuo district of central Shanghai - opposite Chang Shou Park and close to the Jade Buddha Temple - is designed to provide a lifestyle destination for Shanghai’s young professionals. It provides opportunities for shopping, strolling, eating, gathering and relaxing. 

The design incorporates elements of ‘old Shanghai’ through geometry, pattern and materialisation and combines these with a contemporary urban experience, thereby creating a destination with a distinctly Shanghai feel.

The existing qualities of the immediate urban surroundings, which include small-scale restaurants and boutique stores, are reflected in the building where they are stacked vertically to populate the envelope with programmatic destinations that can be seen from street level. 

Inside, elements of street life are mixed with lifestyle retail features and are distributed throughout the building. The organisation of the building encourages the visitor to stroll through and explore the different levels of the complex, where retail spaces follow an open layout and are punctuated with small kiosks.

Programmed Facade

The facade is designed to support the overall design concept of a programmed facade and to create depth for the building envelope. The use of multi-layered components enables a variety of views towards the surroundings, whilst simultaneously providing functional transparency in specifically located areas. 

Based on a hexagonal grid, the facade components follow the articulated geometry of the building and provide constantly changing perspectives. 

A gradient transition from bigger to smaller facade components regulates the exposure of the inside to the outside and enhances the main entrance of the building. The facade therefore becomes an integrated active layer that can be programmed as display windows, vista points or balconies. 

On the lower facade a hexagonal grid consists of diamond shaped panels that are tied between pins forming a tensioned cladding system. Here the arrangement of the components can change across the facade from single layer to triple layer, up to a depth of 400mm. Constructed from different materials and lit by RGB LEDs these panels create different visual effects: transparent or opaque, colourful or monochrome, reflective or matt. 

Urban eyes

Large double-height facade openings present the interior programme to the outside world. These ‘urban eyes’ simultaneously create large display platforms for products whilst providing balconies with views to the surroundings. 


The interior of Lane 189 derives its character from a central void which cuts through the volume from base to top and is punctuated by a series of rounded plateaus. When seen from below the rounded plateaus resemble a cohesive layered organic structure, however when looking down from above the programmes of the plateaus are revealed.   

These smaller pockets, positioned in a rotational manner, create intimate plazas and are visually connected to the urban eyes of the facade. 

Commenting on the project Ben van Berkel from UNStudio said: "The concept for Lane 189 was based on a direct response to urban Shanghai today and the wonderful fragmentation of impressions that you experience there. We wanted to imbed this in the building by creating an urban interior with the feel of a vertical public square. But in order to continue these ideas throughout, it was also essential to connect the interior with the outside and conceptually reflect these impressions in the design of the facade."

The central void further organises vertical circulation and orientation, creates views across the different levels and facilitates a clear view column from the second basement level up to the skylight art installation.

For more information please visit https://www.unstudio.com/en/page/7950/lane-189

Listen to WAN's podcast with Ben Van Berkel of UNStudio

The WAN Awards Facade category is open and the final deadline for entries is 30th June.

Click here for more details or email wanawards@haymarket.com


Key Facts

Residential Commercial Retail

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team
  • Town Planning Manager | Housebuilder in Surrey | 3+ years' PQE

    Are you a Town Planner with some commercial experience under your belt (consultancy or developer)? Would you like to work for a regional housebuild...
    • Lewis Davey
    • Surrey - near M25/M23 junction
  • Principal Planning Consultant (Policy)

    This is a career opportunity for somebody looking to play a key role in the delivery of an effective and efficient planning policy service.
    • Capita
    • Manchester/Salford (North West) or Breckland or North Tyneside or Barnet (North London)
  • Senior Planning Officer

    A vacancy has arisen in the Development Management Section of the Planning Services Division for a part-time Senior Planning Officer.
    • South Derbyshire District Council
    • Derbyshire
  • Planning Officers

    Work as key members of the Councils development management service providing pre-application advice, dealing with applications and appeals.
    • Chiltern and South Bucks Council
    • Amersham, Buckinghamshire
  • Enforcement Officer - Hertfordshire

    A Local Authority in Hertfordshire are looking for an Enforcement Officer to assist them with a backlog of cases for an initial contract of 3-6 months
    • Oyster Partnership
    • Hertfordshire