Shanghai – ‘This is a retail exhibition space, yes, but also a place to settle the spirit,’ explained Dongqi Architects’ Jiang Nan. That’s because Anzhi, a new concept store in Shanghai, was designed to showcase Buddhist shrines.
Located on the top floor of the M50 Creative Park, the 202-sq-m venue follows a concentric-circle layout: from the centre, a series of semi-transparent walls intricately connect to one another like a group of waves that crash on the old arch stairs preserved by the team – M50 used to be a factory, so Dongqi preserved some of its industrial past in this store. To add to the effect, the original walls of the space were painted black, so as to blur the perception of boundaries.
But the real boundary-blurring element is beyond those waves, in the middle of the store: an installation by artist Lin Wanshan, called Space, showcases a virtual digital Buddha that transports visitors to a shrine.
Due to a series of controlled spotlights, the digital Buddha seems to reflect and refract on the surface of the acrylic boards that form the circles. As shoppers walk through the gaps, they get to see both a reflection of the religious leader and, most tellingly, themselves. ‘As they move with changing lights, their perspectives shift between surroundings and reflected images, as if the boundary of the virtual and the reality is blurred,’ added Jiang. Anzhi, it turns out, is a funhouse mirror of the spiritual kind.