No. 26, Zhanqian 1st Street
Liwan District, Guangzhou, Guangdong

Gross Built Area (Square Meters):

Design Year:
2019.12 - 2020.04

Completion Year:
2020.07 - 2020.11

Photo Credits:
Hu Yanyun

Common Zhang clothing store is located in ARAapm shopping mall in Liwan District, Guangzhou. It was initially the Guangzhou World Trade Shoe City, one of the oldest wholesale distribution centres.
When the client first found us, the shopping mall underwent design upgrades. All the shops are identical to one another and low in recognition. The brief is obvious - to design a retail store that is mysterious, interesting, and stands out from the surroundings.
The site is a 138 square-meter rectangular space, with 6 meters internal ceiling height. Due to the spanning of structural beams across the site, the usable ceiling height is approximate 5.4 meters. A 1.2 x 0.8 meters giant load-bearing column sitting in the centre of the site is an obstruction at the beginning of the design phase. We changed our perspective towards it; why not make use of it?  
We started with a comprehensive analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the site. There are three clues. First, the giant column; second, the usable ceiling height of 5.4 meters; and third, the site is visually focused, facing the two main entrances of the mall.
Workaround with these three clues, our design strategy is to create a small architecture indoors. "The meander, as we call it, is a designed negative space between the blocks, a space that connects everything as it flows throughout the entire building, creating a peacefully pulsating rhythm. Moving around this space means making discoveries." Peter Zumthor.
We consider the site a solid rectangular 'architecture' and leave the two corners facing the main entrance of the shopping mall as the main entrance to the store. The giant column becomes the 'core,' connecting the two main entrances creating a rhythmic meander around it. In this way, no matter which entry you choose to come in from the mall, you will be attracted first by the unconventional solid façade, then by the mysterious stairs. Walking up the either stair, you will slowly converge at the 'core' spiral staircase platform, step to the display window, fold back to the merchandise display area, and leave through the side exit.
As mentioned earlier, the design intention is to create architecture in a shopping mall. In terms of material selection, we are looking for something commonly used for large-scale projects or buildings but rare for the interior. We have exposed aggregated stone finish for the facade to enhance the volume of the 'architecture' and Jing brick for the core and the staircase. Jing brick laying in the same direction as the staircases, it is to guide passers-by to walk into the store unconsciously. The black colour within the green exposed aggregated facade also adds a layer of dynamism to the space.