MAD Architects have unveiled plans for a vast fashion design centre in Xiamen that plays with the synergies between clothing and architecture. Rik Glauert reports.
Construction has begun on an expansive and ecological design centre. Conceived by MAD Architects for international fashion brand Xinhee and its six subsidiary brands in China’s coastal city of Xiamen, it features 61,000 square metres of floor space.
The vast building takes inspiration from the human body. Its skeletal frame is casually wrapped in a translucent and sun-shading envelope of PTFE, in much the same way that clothes adorn a body.
“We envision it as a building with skin-and-bones,” reveals MAD founding principal Ma Yansong. “The correspondence of clothing and architecture is they both explore the relationship between the interior and the exterior.”
The six offices for the different brands radiate out from the central core with a natural ease, like the petals of a flower or like bones from a joint. The radial layout provides independence and an abundance of natural light, ventilation, and views from the core to each of Xinhee’s subsidiary brands. While each office has its own dedicated space, communication between the brands is encouraged.
The core atrium itself is open to both staff and visitors, and it boasts public green spaces, vertical gardens and water features. Dramatic glass elevators connect the floors and a footbridge across the space doubles as a catwalk for in-house fashion shows.
MAD Architects have demonstrated their green credentials throughout the design. To lower solar radiation and provide natural lighting to the office, a translucent coating is applied to the building’s façade, which lets 40 percent of the sunlight through. Other green features include solar panels, which have been installed on the roof of the building to provide power for day-to-day operations. Green spaces such as stacked garden and a winter greenhouse help offset carbon emissions.
The designers have made strategic use of natural ventilation via the airy atrium and lifted structure on the first floor. This keeps the building’s footprint to a minimum, reducing it by as much as two thirds. The PTFE sunshade also allows for natural ventilation, while taking some of the power out of the sun’s rays.
The dramatic PTFE envelope – together with the building’s horizontally and vertically open spaces – makes this incredibly efficient building feel surprisingly lightweight. Says Ma, “It’s interesting for a building with such an intrinsically logical structure to look floating and free.”
Xinhee Design Centre is set to complete in 2017.