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Rock Star: Retail Arcade in Chengdu

Elena Galli Giallini Ltd and Spawton Architecture complete the high street shopping space at the new Sino Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu development. Tamsin Bradshaw takes a tour.

Rock Star: Retail Arcade in Chengdu

Stone was at the heart of the architects’ concept for the underground element of the Sino Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu retail space – but not in the way you might think. Here, you can see echoes of Kunming’s Shilin stone forest and China’s mountainous regions in the jagged shapes, geometric silhouettes and sharp lines that inform the design for the arcade.

E.G. Galliani's design for the mall at Sino Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu
The ceiling in the retail arcade is “cracked” with symbolic fissures. 

Spread over three storeys underneath the ancient Daci Temple, the arcade is made up of high street stores, a cinema, public facilities and lift lobbies. Industrial era-style lifts take people up through layers that resemble the different strata of rock formations to the buildings above, which include six heritage sites and the aboveground elements of Sino Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu.

Angular elements inspired by geological formations at Sino Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu
Angular forms and granite panels inspired by geological formations at the retail arcade. 

The extensive complex is a joint project between Swire Properties and Sino-Ocean Land; the developers commissioned Elena Galli Giallini and Spawton Architecture to create an 18,000-square-metre underground arcade that would be elegant while fitting visually with the Buddhist Daci Temple – which dates back to 618 A.D. – and the other heritage sites.

E.G. Galliani panels at retail arcade, Sino Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu
Granite and lava-stone rod panels at the mall. 

Wishing to steer away from formulaic shopping malls, the architects took the concept a step further, conceiving a giant, underground cavern complete with geological formations such as fissures and protrusions.

E.G. Galliani, retail arcade at Sino Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu
Lines and edges at Sino Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu’s underground mall. 

The deep-earth reference comes through in other ways, too: in the use of materials, such as granite and lava-stone, plus grey steel and copper that call to mind mining and industry. The idea also comes through digitally, in screens that reference scrolls and notebooks found in old Buddhist temples.

Lift interior, E.G. Giallini, Sino Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu
An industrial era-inspired lift at the arcade, finished in copper, with grid flooring 

Elena Galli Giallini Ltd is a multi-disciplinary studio that was set up in Hong Kong in 2013, after almost 20 years in Japan. The studio works on everything from interior and architectural projects to industrial design. British architect Alex Jones set up Spawton Architecture Limited in 2013 in Hong Kong, working on interiors and architecture projects.

All images in this story are by Virgile Simon Bertrand, copyright ELENA GALLI GIALLINI LTD and Spawton Architecture.

Elena Galli Giallini

Spawton Architecture

Swire Properties

Sino-Ocean Land

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