Sybarite has designed a shopping mall and restaurant in the ancient capital of Xi’An to match the scale and opulence of Qin Dynasty China.
15 October, 2018
The gargantuan SKP Xi’An mall incorporates more than 250,000 square metres and 20 storeys of high-end boutiques, restaurants, and and cinemas. Inside, restaurant Beijing Kitchen is similarly large, seating 238 customers. Both lavish designs, created by London-based Sybarite, take their cues from the ancient capital of Xi’An – the bustling city famous for its Terracotta Warriors and vast South Gate, which sits just next to SKP.
Up close, SKP Xi’An features an intricate bas relief honeycombed facade of brushed bronzed brass. The designers, led by Sybarite cofounder Torquil McIntosh, took inspiration from Moorish architecture such as southern Spain’s Alhambra Palace. The mall links to Sybarite’s previous project, SKP Beijing, with the brand’s signature curve.
The recurring motif can be found on everything from the concession stands, to vents built in the pavement outside, to the lift buttons. “We made the curve a subliminal branding cue which artfully reminds visitors that they are experiencing SKP,” explains McIntosh.
Equally vast, the Beijing Kitchen takes its design and layout from Xi’An’s streetscape and urban structures. The 1,500-square-metre restaurant is subdivided into a number of public, semi-private and private areas with brass floor trims, ceiling and wall frameworks and the furniture.
“Just as the Forbidden City was meticulously planned, the internal brass partitions at the Beijing Kitchen in Xi’an have been carefully considered and coordinated,” says McIntosh. Brass partitions with onyx marble infills and discreetly housed LEDs divide up the space. The walls also feature luxury materials: faux shagreen cladding is capped with brass and beautifully backlit.
A challenge for McIntosh and his team was to keep the noise-level optimal in such a vast space. They designed large, upholstered and teal-coloured acoustic discs to hang above each of the tables, absorbing sound and breaking up the space.
McIntosh is proud of the restaurant’s luxury private dining suites – one has sweeping 180-degree views of Xi’An’s South Gate while another boasts a private terrace. But, he is equally pleased with the clever mixture of luxury and simple materials. There’s a strong juxtaposition of industrial concrete and the sparingly used noble material onyx. “It’s the simplicity and attention to detailing that allows the two contrasting materials to sit together in harmony,” says McIntosh.
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