Client: Guo Feng Development
Type: Retail, offices + restaurants
Location: Beijing, China
Size: 240,000 SF
Design: 2008
Photography: Shuhe Architectural Photography
    International Architecture Award, 2009
    WA – World Architecture Community Award, December 2008

A new retail complex, with master plan by Hong Kong based The Oval Partnership, is organized like a medieval village with a dense fabric of narrow alleys, low-rise buildings, elevated walkways and bridges connecting all levels. LOT-EK was assigned the north-east section of the “village”, comprised of three separate and interconnected buildings, which were dedicated to retail, restaurants and event spaces. International architecture firms such as KKAA/Kengo Kuma & Associates, SHoP Architects and Sako Architects were also commissioned to design additional buildings. LOT-EK’s concept is centered on the old typology of the Chinese ‘HUTONG’, the internal urban alley animated by small retail, functioning as multi-level, open-air circulation. In each alley, a rhythmic system of scaffolding-like metal frames is wedged between the buildings, adapting to the varying width of the alley’s cross-section. The rhythm of the structure is based on the width of ISO shipping containers (8 feet), which are inserted randomly into the facades of the building and jut out into the alleys. At the ground level, the containers function as canopies that hover over the retail stores entrances and house display or other small functions on the interior. On the upper floors, containers are pierced and skewered by the horizontal circulation, functioning as entrances to the retail stores and as display windows along the loggias. The scaffolding-like structure extends the alleys out towards the main street of the Sanlitun area to lure in the passers-by. At every level the containers function as large three-dimensional graphic objects layered with signage and logos. Orange mesh, also pierced by shipping containers, wraps the external perimeter of the entire northeast section adding privacy and sun refraction along the outer façades.