- Design Team : Nan Jiang, Jinfan Xie, Zhiyi Zheng, Zhongzhang Wang, Tianjian Zhou, Jikui Qiu, Zhiting Ye
- Client : CONCEPTS INTERNATIONAL
- City : Shanghai
- Country : China
Text description provided by the architects. dongqi Architects is commissioned by CONCEPTS to renovate a Shikumen-style ('Stone Warehouse Gate') old building into its first concept store in China. The old building is located at the South Block of Xintiandi and has served Shanghai for over 100 years.
In this project, the store needs to reconcile two different operational needs -- daily retail sales and releases of limited-edition sneakers. dongqi Architects divides the original space into two spaces with distinguishable vibes. The front space along the main path is in keeping with the original Shikumen style of buildings in old Shanghai. Its delightful and cozy ambiance makes it a suitable reception room for product shows or events. The back space for retail sales is deliberately blocked from the main path to create a sense of mystery. Unlike the front space, the back space is built with anodic aluminum oxide, stainless steel, metal textiles, carbon fiber and terrazzo etc.
The original building had a row of columns at the center that might negatively affect retailing. After careful consideration, dongqi Architects decided to strengthen the presence of the columns to give an impression of orderliness. They designed and added two more rows of columns to form an umbrella-shaped system, which successfully reinforced the order of space. Under the umbrella-shaped system, there are relatively independent and quiet showrooms for merchandising displays. This way of display gives out a sense of solemnness and makes shopping a special experience. Moreover, it enables the access aisle to look clean and pure and brings a sense of drama to the room.
In the umbrella-shaped system, shutters are open or closed to certain degrees based on a designed algorithm. The slats of shutters, which are made of anodic alumina, are able to change angles at different heights to meet the operational needs while maintaining aesthetics. For example, the MEP air conditioning and the lighting system are hidden at the higher place of the columns and the power system are hidden at the lower place. Lights, closed-circuit television, audio sound system, and fire safety equipment are carefully placed between columns.
Anodic alumina slats of different shapes are fixed to each position by stainless-steel joints specially designed, prototyped and produced for CONCEPTS. Each of the specially created joints enables 3-axis rotation so as to fix materials firmly to a position and fulfil customized functions. The joints are also used to make the adjustable display racks, walls of the fitting room, doorknobs and hangers that can suit different angles.
Walls at two sides of the space are made of mirror-finish stainless steel and concrete. These materials create another space in mirror. The mirror effect widens the space and multiplies the number of umbrella columns, giving a stronger sense of order. Another optical illusion of depth is created by overlapping joint lines of the terrazzo floor with the orthogonal projection of the umbrella-shaped system and changing terrazzo mixture. One may notice that the floor gradually switches colors. To match the style of the floor, the whole surface of stainless-steel walls shows a gradient effect from mirror-like finish to matte finish. This is achieved by a hand-crafted polishing method that changes polishing pressures at different parts of the walls.
Elements of the umbrella-shaped system can also be found at the door and windows of the building façade, in which stainless-steel materials have been rotated vertically to 90 degrees and embellished into the old Shikumen-style grey bricks. They are the first clue that the room inside has something new and special to offer.