Hall of the Sun, located in Shanghai’s large-scale residential community, Rui Hong Xin Cheng, is a combination of lifestyle, and commercial center, comprising office as well as retail and transportation hub.
This giant 180,000 square meter space, not only has Shanghai’s largest skylight roof canopy, and a three-story super atrium space, but also creatively located dining blocks and markets from the fifth floor to the seventh floor, creating a unique urban experience.
This is another successful exploration and creation for ARQ in the field of innovative commercial centers. As a high-profile project with high expectations and attention from citizens, Hall of the Sun was completed after eight years and opened to the public on September 19th, 2021.
01 Evolution of Commercial Architecture
In the Internet Age, which way should commercial buildings go?
As a design company with rich experience in the planning and design of commercial buildings and urban complexes, ARQUITECTONICA has been thinking about this issue and diligently pursuing forward-looking design and leading innovation for commercial buildings.
The disruption caused by the popularity of online shopping has created new opportunities for the development of commercial buildings.
In ARQ’s thinking, the key function of traditional commercial centers has changed from being primarily a place of consumption to being a place for social life. Instead of only looking at the prosperity of the mall as an outsider, people should join into the prosperity and become part of it.
In this context, commercial spaces should be designed as places that encourage interaction and allow for different experiences while also respecting local cultural practices, creating spaces with a scene-oriented commercial atmosphere.
Hence, ARQ’s design approach started from the topic of “FOODIE SOCIAL”, challenging the traditional thinking of commercial design, so that green ecology, quality of life and social culture permeated through it, creating an ecologically innovative urban complex.
According to “foodie social” and food culture, Hall of the Sun is divided into two main zones: traditional mall and food hall.
The area occupied by the food hall is almost 30% of the total proportion of the building, almost the same amount of area occupied by the traditional mall.
Therefore, from the initial stage of planning, the design separated the traditional shopping mall from the food hall in elevation to differentiate the spatial experience as much as possible.
Placing the food hall on the lower levels would inevitably have decreased the commercial value of the upper spaces, so the design team placed the food hall on the top of the entire building in a non-traditional way, transforming the higher floors, that are subject to rental pressure in a traditional commercial complex, into a dynamic and attractive themed space.
02 The Commercial Mega-Scale Connected City
Hall of the Sun, located in Hongkou District of Shanghai, is a complex with a combination of commercial, office building, and transportation.
This massive commercial space will not only benefit neighboring communities, but also assist the development of the North Bund area of Hongkou District. It will play a central role in a lifestyle and commercial circle radiating throughout the whole of North Shanghai.
Its innovative design breaks the traditional discipline of Big Box space in commercial architecture and interacts with time and space, city and nature, as well as theme and consumption, integrating social life into the commercial model.
The whole project connects together with other existing retail centers, forming a new landmark of North Shanghai, with its characteristic 5,000 square meter super massive skylight and 3-story high super atrium design of the central space. It is the most dynamic and emerging landmark in the area.
03 Skylight, Atrium, Street Block: Food Hall
One of the highlights of Hall of the Sun ’s design is the foodie social theme space on the fifth floor. The food hall is designed as a “Sky Village”, which bridges the connection between city and field, with a high-quality and eco-friendly lifestyle.
Although the food hall is located on the fifth floor, the design, such as a huge super atrium, abundant sunshine, street block layout, open public spaces and numerous green plants give visitors an experience like being in an outdoor commercial space.
As the focus point of this design, the 5,000 square meter lotus-leaf skylights are supported by three columns, creating a space that captures and filters sunlight.
The umbrella-like structure system reduces the potentially heavy feeling of such a large complex, emphasizing the manifesto of Nature in the City.
The skylight has a sunshade system that can track the path of the sun and filter the amount of direct of sunlight. These details give visitors a relaxing shopping experience.
Beneath the skylight is a large open space where the blocks of different sizes are stacked on top of each other, scattered in a pattern, and hidden between the green plants, creating a relaxed neighborhood-style shopping atmosphere.
In terms of commercial format, such a large and special open space breaks the traditional mode of sub-letting the segmented space in commercial buildings, integrating more formats and experiences into it, giving the entire space more flexibility and variety.
The design cleverly utilizes the central island area in the middle and lower-level shopping malls of the building, to conceal the vertical transportation system connecting the logistics cargo area and the 5-story food hall, which not only satisfies the large-area catering demands in the upper floors, but also transforms the middle island at the top into an functional open space.
04 The Fifth Façade
The emphasis of nature in the design of Hall of the Sun not only appears in the interior but is also reflected in the design of the façade and outdoor space.
As the surroundings are dominated by high-rise residential buildings, Hall of the Sun’s design considers the rooftop as the fifth façade of the whole building. Therefore, the design of the super atrium not only aims to create a unique spatial experience for the interior, but also express its symbolism on both inside and outside.
The entire canopy is a large-scale steel structure with a span of 88 meters. According to the design, the size, length, and curvature of each curved structure rod is different to represent three similar but different "lotus leaves". Also, the abstract shapes are combined to form a unique rhythm with spiral curves diverging outward.
Meanwhile, the mechanical equipment is hidden below the white railing frames making the fifth façade look clean.
05 Gentle Curves
As well as the roof-top curves, Hall of the Sun’s other facades also use similar forms to soften its appearance. It aims to create harmony and a beautiful atmosphere between the building and the street.
Considering the huge volume of Hall of the Sun, ARQUITECTONICA utilized the design of soft curves to blend the building with its surroundings and make the building a friendlier and softer figure in the city.
The overall shape of the building appears convex at the lower levels and concave above with the ribbon-like decoration on the façade further strengthening this curvilinear shape. In this way, the whole building looks like mountains or overlapping terraces from a certain distance.
As the space adjusts from floor to floor, the sense of volume can be reduced, allowing green and plants to spread within the spaces, creating a sense of connection with the central area.