UNStudio fabricates a patterned façade of tessellated diamonds

Lane 189 by UNStudio. Photos Hufton + Crow / Eric Jap (lead image)

SHANGHAI – In the northwest of the city centre, Shanghai’s Putuo region is a mixture of traditional and contemporary atmospheres, the qualities of which are infused into a new retail complex which encompasses the distinct characteristics of the urban district. Taking inspiration from the patterns and colours of ‘old Shanghai’, Amsterdam-based architect UNStudio has fabricated a façade of tessellated diamonds.

If you squint your eyes, you’re not quite sure if you’re looking at a hexagonal grid or a series of flattened cubes but in either case, the multi-layered aluminium cladding is an attention-grabbing manoeuvre to attract the locals to the location.

Lane 189 is more of a commercial destination than a conventional shopping mall. UNStudio set out to design a building that would make a deeper connection between the brands it hosted and the young professionals in the area. ‘In the past, all shopping malls were the same; presenting the same brands and offering no other activities for the consumer,’ says the architect. ‘Lane 189 responds to a changing retail industry that is moving towards online shopping. It includes a lot more tenants who make food and drink, provide shared offices spaces, teach languages, cut hair, get you exercising or even hold onto your kids while you pop into a beauty salon.’

A central void form is surrounded by an indoor market and constitutes vertical circulation. The concept of the internal high street is nothing new but the extruded form and overhanging platforms are inspired by the Shanghai lanes – narrow streets with houses so close together that, during foreign occupation and civil war, people could escape from the top of one building to reach another. Undulating balconies create plateaus for retail and commercial use. The golden interior of the mixed use facility is blatantly motivated by the richness of colour used throughout the city.

Two gaping holes in the building’s façade draw in the interest of the crowds on the street. Referred to by the architect as ‘urban eyes’, the double-height openings create a visual link between the interior and the outside – not only do they act as windows but they connect the indoor market street with the real thing.

Says the architect: ‘These urban eyes simultaneously create large display platforms for products, whilst providing balconies with views to the surroundings. They were designed to frame particular views of the outside, such as the Chang Shou Park opposite. On the inside, the programme design is specifically laid out to offer a spectacle for people on the outside looking in. It is a dual relationship of “see and be seen”.’

Elevation – Northwest

Elevation – Northeast

Location Changshou Road, Shanghai, China

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