Grand Gateway 66 is a flagship commercial mixed-use complex comprising a 7 storey Retail Center, serviced apartments blocks and twin Offices Towers, with a total GFA of 315,118 M2 on a site of 50,788 M2. Located in Xijiahui, one of the most preeminent commercial district and transportation hub in south-west area of Shanghai, the complex is very well connected to three main Metro Lines, distributed across the premises. The retail center (185,720 M2), consisting of two distinct buildings, the main L - shaped South Bldg. and the square, compact annex North Bldg. is the main component of GG66. The renovation project is set to revitalize the retail center and aims also to add another decisive dimension to the architecture of this area and beyond.
Five principles define the project: 1. - Integration and connectivity; 2. - Complementarity and Identity; 3. - Place making versus mere retail venue; 4. - Openness and interconnectedness; 5. - Character and Light; 6. - Aesthetical value (Authenticity vs visual “Glamour”)
- Integration & connectivity The new scheme created for North Building, as first phase implementation of this massive program, is the key project for GG66 overall rejuvenation. The mall spreads over six floors above grounds, one basement level retail and connection to the metro network, and two basement-parking levels. The transformation program required a major improvement of the overall connectivity with the creation of a more balanced distribution of accesses and the integration between the retail center and the surrounding areas so to strengthen the links between the mall, its locality and the city. For us higher connectivity meant also to improve all interrelationships, visual, spatial and functional and integrate the functions of the program with the social aspects.
- Complementarity and Identity
The retail complex comprises two buildings, characterized by polarity in size, architectural language, ambiance character and structure. Due to different set of constraints, the brief required diversification for the two buildings renovation, with a program entailing an almost total reconstruction for the North Bldg. while a more surgical restoration was laid for the South Bldg. The overarching design strategy aimed to harmonize and integrate the two buildings into a new complex, where the two distinct malls would work as a single organism, complementing each other in all aspects, with synergetic contrast; the malls combined elements were solved and expressed as a whole, while their individual singularity was maintained and their respective identities emphasized.
- Place making vs mere retail venue Seeking to infuse this huge retail complex with a new value, shifting its position from mere commercial center and transforming it into a unique destination, ‘Place Making’ become the underlying idea for GG66 design approach. Successful malls have to be ‘user centered’, becoming hubs for urban lifestyle, places offering possibilities to enjoy full time - multilevel experiences. As contemporary malls are transforming their functions and performance characteristics to become ‘social and leisure places’ where people want to spend meaningful time, identity and quality of space will be the fundamental factors. “Our design focused on producing a ‘place’ where aesthetical appeal and space identity were crucial in setting this mall apart from the conventional formulas and in generating its distinction among other malls. We define aesthetical value of an ambiance as that certain set of characteristics that makes people feel good; aesthetical appeal will lie in its capability to attract and entice users, with energetic vibe and sophisticated atmosphere. To create special identity, we strived to bring authenticity, novelty and refinement, in opposition to extravagance, grandiosity and over-decoration. We privileged elegant simplicity, rigor, harmonious and balanced relationships in space, for a quality long lasting yet contemporary.
- Openness and Interconnectedness
The North Bldg. existing ambiance was an anonymous labyrinthine compound without natural light, lacking of visual attractiveness; dysfunctional layout resulted in inefficient circulation and poor interconnectedness among shops and with public areas, affecting significantly the customer experience. To generate a “rebirth” of the North Building, we used an in-depth holistic approach, encompassing the whole design spectrum, from the overall architectural interior to the single parts and objects details. Our design centered on the objective to define a fluid layout and harmonious settings characterized by spaciousness, openness, interconnectedness, with abundance of space in public areas to convey luxurious feel. The scheme stemmed from the idea to create large expanses at each floor, transforming the lobbies in internal “Plazas”, whilst elevating their role to attractive medium that could offer possibilities to enjoy a space enabling socialization, participation and discovery.
The plazas pivotal point is in their vertical circulation core where a pair of back lit escalators crisscrosses the void with staggered layout adding a distinctive twist to the plaza serene expanse. The void punctuates the lobbies penetrating all floors so to increase openness and visual interconnectedness. Each floor is set up to produce diverse visual perspectives to enliven the ambiance and add dynamism.
- Character and Light
The character of the lobbies-plaza is underlined by the core area main elements, the spandrel, the balustrade, and the surrounding columns. The attention was drawn to the ceiling design in particular, as element meant to emphasize the lobby expansiveness; vigorous shapes, unique features, back-lit coves and folding planes delineate the ceiling complex geometries and sculptural quality. Light planning is also crucial in generating attractiveness and distinctiveness to the mall. At each floor, the spandrel loop wraps around the irregular hexagon-shaped void, molding it with its faceted perimeter; the sleek façade of back lit, angled panels in glass and mesh brighten up the whole ambiance setting up a main visual focus right in the core. At the bottom, a seamless ridge in copper, with material and color contrast brings accent and strength to the core ethereal, reflective appearance. The clear glass balustrade complements the spandrel system with a modular double-fin shaped framework in metal bespoke design. The ensemble accentuate the minimalistic, and neat quality of the overall ambiance. A parade of six metal columns around the void, pin points the corners of ceiling coves and folding planes and works as strong counterpoint to the composure of the whole expanse; the columns flaunt unconventional shape with sides splitting at angled corners completed by prominent tops in stylized capital; their bold accent anchors the void with a strong presence.
Mimicking the void perimeter, the loops of surrounding shops form another multifaceted layer grouping together in different arrangements at each floor, so that the lobbies’ expanses, where the space stretches and folds in unexpected configurations, never have the same visual character. Other shops, located far from the core, act as special link-areas, integrating and inclosing, at opposite sides, the bridges that connect North to the South Building.
At the further back, along the building façade envelop, the last layer contains the BOH spaces with the functional areas and services, including service staircases, Lift Lobbies, facilities and customers washrooms.
Special attention was dedicated to all the BOH spaces, with the aim to uplift their image as well as their functionality, making them work as parts integrant to the main public space. Lift Cabs, wall claddings in stone and metals, doors, handles, light fixtures and all other parts and components were customized and richly crafted so to produce relevant solutions, specific and exclusively designed and produced for GG66. The washrooms complement the liveliness and sculptural qualities of the overall design. While conceived to increased comfort, functionality and user-friendliness, the scheme focuses also on attractiveness and novelty. The aim is to set the washrooms apart from the typical ambiance, while maintaining an overall subtle elegance. A collection of cantilevered, hexagon-shaped sinks, line up beneath mirror units; original cubicles are hewn in impeccable white solid material paired with copper and bronze details, urinals purposely disguise their function with angled, multifaceted partitions, creating private little nooks to produce optimal privacy. Other standard units provide function variety through subtle diversification. Unconventional lighting completes the scheme in the washrooms. Light in particular is strategic in the overall design. Paired with bespoke light fixtures, which were uniquely designed and produced for GG66 renovation, light solutions define the identity of the space, highlighting key features and finally, solving aesthetically the diverse constraints of the ceiling service equipment.
- Authenticity (vs artificial Glamour)
Our design principles are informed on the concept of creating long lasting value. We privileged authenticity versus artificiality, subtlety versus accentuated decoration and understated elegance versus artificial grandiosity.
Materials and colors convey feeling of naturalness and authenticity and enhance quality through subtle elegance. Throughout the scheme, natural materials, wood, stones, meshes and metals, carefully selected and combined with different colours, textures and finishes, blend in harmonious contrast and generate dynamism and distinction. Overall the environment is marked by organic, sculptural shapes and by interplay between bold features and delicacy of details. High level of customization is provided for all parts, enriched by finely crafted metalwork, with mix of grey steel and copper/bronze metals that emphasize the clear-cut design. Colors palette displays a balanced contrast between bold and delicate hues, pale and stronger tones.
A vibrant, dynamic environment, attractive visual elements and multiple amenities are key to providing leisure and entertainment for compelling experiences for the customers.