Take 2: how a rethink and redesign produced an award-winning mall

When Lead8’s Claude Touikan began work on the award-winning MixC Shenzhen Bay retail project, it was a case of throwing the original plans out the window and starting from scratch.

Client China Resources had engaged another firm to design and build the mega-mall in the mixed-use development featuring hotels and an office tower that would house the mainland developer’s regional headquarters. But after six months of construction, including concrete pours, it had a rethink.

“Another shopping complex had opened nearby and the Yuefu residential apartments being built above the mall were very upmarket and attracting highly affluent customers, “ explains Claude. So Lead8 was called in to start again and remake the four-level mall as “super high-end”. The Hong Kong-based studio completely redesigned the interior, using the concept of floating islands, as well as the façade.

One of the first decisions was to abandon the huge skylights in the original design to reduce unwanted glare and heat. “We wanted to control the light to create a more welcoming and intimate feeling inside.” Arcades were widened, and the box style design was opened up to provide more natural light and views for the F&B outlets on the external boundaries.

Other features of the 80,000-sq m mall include a sprawling book shop, with its own café, a luxurious cinema complex, including a VIP lounge that could be mistaken for a first-class airport lounge, a range of restaurants and designer boutiques leased by many of the world’s biggest luxury brands.

Another cool design element utilises an emergency-access roadway running through the development. Called Culture Street, it is now a unique venue for promotional events including one recently which focused on the story of the Beatles and recreated the iconic scene from the Abbey Road album cover. The redesigned façade includes a giant silhouette of mangroves, inspired by the natural mangrove reserve on the north-east coast of Shenzhen Bay, and shoppers can also unwind in a rooftop garden on the top level.

Claude laughs off suggestions of any added pressure due the fact the client was housing its own headquarters in the complex. “It probably put more pressure on China Resources’ retail team. We’re confident we know what the tenants are looking for. We talk with them so we understand the idea they are looking to project.”

It seems that confidence was well-founded. MixC Shenzhen Bay won an Excellence Award for Interior Design in last year’s A&D Awards and helped reinforce Lead8’s growing reputation as one of the leading multi-disciplinary practices in the region.