Article by Win Phyo – Funmix Shopping Centre, by LSA Design, in Beijing, China. Shopping malls in Asia are not only a source of retail therapy but also a prime location for social hangouts. Modern China is no stranger to consumerism, and Beijing, the third-largest city in the country, has fallen prey to shopping mall developments. Towering over the city at more than three stories in height, these large-scale buildings were widely invested in by China’s urban planners to meet the growing demand and also to suggest the aspirations of the urbanizing middle class. But as often happens, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing: Many of these malls are on the verge of economic collapse, forcing developers to try harder in order to attract more people.
Funmix Shopping Centre
That’s where Funmix Shopping Centre comes in. The new mall focuses on cheerful and functional outdoor resting and play spaces. Like flies swarming to a source of light, children and adults alike are drawn to the bright outdoor features. Could malls such as Funmix be the answer to retailers’ prayers? “To see elements like our bubble seats and the F-U-N-M-I-X lightboxes built — elements with less conventional design details and construction methods, elements which are often labeled too hard after the concept stage in China and discarded — to see them built makes the push to get something unique for a project like this all the more worthwhile.” – Marc Deuschle
Letting Go of Passive Recreation
The core nature of the Funmix space is rooted in themes of action/activity and function. Around the building itself are a series of open, inviting, and bold pedestrian social-scapes (no vehicles clogging these areas) that don’t rely on people enjoying them passively. As such, there is color, movement, sound, and vegetation that won’t become stagnant as time goes by. At the street level, commercial plazas dot each of the three main entrances. The ground is dressed in a flowing wave pattern, which extends into the building’s ground floor.The highlight of the streetwise social-scape is a set of circular, yellow bubble seats scattered around the plaza. They look like waving cartoon characters that might just wobble if you touch them. Did we mention that they also light up at night? No wonder kids can be seen climbing them as though they are a part of the play-scape. During the summer, kids are also can be heard running and playing between the water jets of the southern plaza. If one has had enough of the cheerful activity in between the entry plazas, there are simple gardens made up of mounded, ornamental lawns and trees where you can have a relaxing break. The organically shaped mosaic seats also allow for a comfortable rest. Swinging and Sliding Opportunities on the Roof Funmix Shopping Centre has made sure there is an excuse for all shoppers to continue all the way up to the top of the building. There lies the “jewel of the development” — an animated play-scape for children of all ages. The elements of a typical commercial roof space, such as exposed ducts, pipes, and plant equipment, have been used as background elements for the play-scape, expressed as part of the design. Useable and intentionally designed spaces are dotted among these features. To tie the new features into the existing pipework, oversized pipes were used to create visual connections. The brightly colored plant equipment can also be seen in the backdrop and the traditional play equipment sitting among them. Cheerful adjectives and stenciled wordplay on the paving further express the fun nature of the space. And at night, the whole area is illuminated via the red climbing boxes and the bubble seats, creating a visually stimulating place. And We Can’t Forget About Climate Control Measures Beijing’s climate runs from water scarcity during the dry season to heavy flooding during the wet season. China’s capital suffers from being one of the most water-scarce cities in the world, and the tragic reality lies in the city’s 60-year transformation from water abundance to one in which its 200-plus rivers and streams have little to no drops of water. Funmix Shopping Centre has thankfully incorporated a water management system, in which swales have been placed in the majority of the gardens. Alongside custom-designed tree pits, these swales collect all available water from the paving, allowing the site’s trees to thrive.
Shopping “Centres” to Shopping “Spaces”
As online shopping gets more popular in China, there is a competitive need for physical shops and the spaces that encapsulate them to work harder both internally and externally. Therefore, designing them as an incorporation of public squares, plazas, and play-scapes could well be the answer: Shopping isn’t merely popping in and out of shops, but an exciting journey.That is why Funmix Shopping Centre’s landscape is the project’s most important drawing card. It clearly creates an atmosphere of context, energy, boldness, and playfulness. It becomes a well-considered spatial experience for the regular shopaholic, the bored group of teenagers, or the impatient boyfriend, in which all of them can feel like they can have their own space and feel good about the time spent at the mall. If one of the driving forces of the local economy is going to continue to be consumerism, we might as well make these spaces more communally beneficial. And after decades of monolithic solutions, let us create more well-considered shopping “spaces”. Here is food for thought: If you had the opportunity to re-design shopping centers, what would you do?
Full Project Credits For One Canal :
Project Name: Funmix Shopping Centre Client: Beijing Vanke Ltd / Cofco Date: Completed January 2015 Design Team: LSA Design – Marc Deuschle / Alex Zhang / Nicholas Pierson www.lsadesign.com.au Other Consultants: Woods Bagot / CPG Architects & Planners Local Landscape Design Institute: Miland Design Major Materials: Concrete and brick pavers, steel, poured softfall, perforated aluminium, fiberglass Length of Construction: 6 months (landscape only) Recommended Reading:
- Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design by Michael Baye
- Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature by Douglas Farrs
- eBooks by Landscape Architects Network