Urban Oasis

UNStudio in collaboration with Nihon Sekkei completes the Shanghai Jiuguang Center – the largest retail complex in north Shanghai

Urban Oasis UNStudio in collaboration with Nihon Sekkei

Fact File
Client: Lifestyle China Group Limited
Location: Jing’An, Shanghai
Local Architect: TJAD
Façade Consultant: Schmidlin
Lighting Design: Bartenbach
Photography: ©Aaron&Rex

The design for this brand-new retail destination merges an advanced commercial ecosystem with a human-centric, customer-friendly destination. While Nihon Sekkei were asked to develop the outer shell of the retail center, UNStudio was tasked with fleshing out the mall as a destination for customers and the larger community. This included the design of the inner courtyard and its facades, the full interior of the mall and a public rooftop terrace.

Urban Oasis UNStudio in collaboration with Nihon Sekkei

At the heart of the mall is the central courtyard with a sunken area with integrated seating, planting, and lighting. The courtyard landscape links the basement levels and the upper levels by way of a generous staircase and escalators. In addition to providing direct access on ground floor, the articulation and horizontal window bands in the facades surrounding the courtyard create a strong visual connection between the external space and the interior public areas on all the levels.

The courtyard facade was conceived as a pearl set within its shell, referring to the tessellated enclosure of the exterior facade, which opens up to a fluid experience and a mother-of-pearl effect as you enter the central courtyard.

Urban Oasis UNStudio in collaboration with Nihon Sekkei

The various balconies that are connected to the void spaces blur the relationship between interior and exterior, while the pearlescent material finish of the ceramic tiles emphasises the daylight falling on different areas of the facade and creating dynamic reflections throughout the day. The surrounding façade also expresses the interior design and identity, with the balcony detail also featuring colour that is matched with the colours predominantly used to accentuate three interior voids located on the perimeter of the courtyard.

Long bands of windows along the courtyard enable glimpses to the interior spaces, while light enters the void spaces through the facade, creating vertical spaces flooded with daylight. Each void has its own distinct identity and materialisation, based on different themes that vertically link the shopping experience and help to orientate users within the expansive retail areas.

The ‘urban playground’ themed void, with its bright a colorful material scheme, expresses the bustle of the city outside. For the second void, with the theme ‘urban oasis’, the materialisation sets out to re-connect with nature, using warm colour tones and brass articulations throughout. The third void, which is themed as an ‘urban catwalk’, describes a night-time atmosphere that is reflected in the dark, glossy materials used.

Urban Oasis UNStudio in collaboration with Nihon Sekkei

The main vertical circulation is located alongside these voids, while the voids themselves are connected on each floor by a retail boulevard. The ceiling design integrates a pattern that acts as a wayfinding element, pointing to common areas such as restrooms, elevators, and the escalators located next to the voids.