There are very few success stories in street retail typology in Beijing. As the retail market becomes more and more competitive, the commercial street has to constantly reinvent itself to keep up with the evolving appetite of the consumers. The objective of this project is to inject energy into an existing commercial street and to create an attractive environment for shoppers to linger.
Located in the city center, this 16,000sqm street is part of a bigger mixed development that consists of residential, offices, hotel. As a vision, the design aims to re-create the retail street, to be seen as an annexe to the adjacent 70,000 sqm shopping mall. As a design primer, we looked into the consumer journey to determine the appropriate intervention to the space.
A pedestrianized bridge that links to the residential development above cuts along the main circulation path of the retail street. Currently, there is no function or spatial identity to the space. Hence, the design focuses on both above and below the bridge, generating nodes to attract people to congregate.
An existing enclosed space at the end of the bridge was reconfigured as an iconic element to the street. It serves as a visual anchor from a wayfinding perspective, as a main visibility signifier to the linear landscape. It is also a multi-functional space where art exhibitions, VIP events, festive celebrations can be held.
The design adopts the concept of ‘borrowed scenery’ from the Chinese Landscape. To create the vision of the space underneath the bridge as a node and holding space, scenes are created and framed. This allows for both visual and physical connection between the 2 edges of the street.
Another design element that was introduced into the ceiling and flooring of the bridge is the hexagonal form. Making use of the triangular module, the hexagon is able to multiply into variations, to incorporate planting, seating and lighting. The modulations also allows for the creation of more intimate spaces.
Timber and corten steel are the 2 key materials used in the project. Besides the area under the bridge, timber decks are proposed to extend out from the shopfront. In contrast with the ‘cold and hard’ existing condition, these materials used in their natural state provides warmth to the space as well as to break down the scale and monumentality of the bridge. Also, the setting that is created by the 2 materials, along with the white painted columns provides a backdrop for activities to be held along the length of the street. The excitement and noise of the space is generated by the signages of the shopfront as well as kiosks and pop-up stores that can be situated along the street.
On the bridge itself, the space is designed as a ‘rooftop garden’ providing a quieter oasis in contrast with the bustle at the street level. Also, this level allows for a vantage point to view both the commercial street and the podium garden of the residential development where people can also enjoy a breather during lunchtime or coffeebreak or even enjoy a mini-music performance on the bridge.