Rotterdam-based studio MVRDV has unveiled designs for the Chongwenmen M-Cube, a pearlescent shopping center nearing completion in the heart of Beijing. Clad in bespoke ceramic tiles, the mall’s facade changes colors depending on the angle viewed, creating the appearance of a giant shimmering pearl. The pearlescent exterior gives the building a “sense of craft and human character” that distinguishes the mall from its staid neighbors.
Located in one of Beijing’s busiest areas, the 44,000-square-meter Chongwenmen M-Cube sits on prime real estate near popular tourist destinations including the historic hutongs, Temple of Heaven, and the Beijing Railway Station. To maximize the commercial value of the comparatively small plot, MVRDV first designed the building to its maximum size limits and then cut away parts of the volume to bring the building down to a pedestrian-friendly scale and establish visual connections with surrounding landmarks. For instance, the facades, which are equipped with LED panels to double as advertisement space, are strategically oriented towards The Forbidden City and the Beijing Rail Station to maximize commercial exposure.
The multi-faceted facade accentuates the shimmering colors of the ceramic pearlescent tiles, each of which are unique and hand-glazed, and radiate a whole spectrum of color depending on lighting conditions and the angle from which they’re viewed. The specially developed tiles were created in collaboration with manufacturers NBK and HDTC and took over a year to develop. The interior of the building is organized around a large central atrium, while an accessible landscaped roof terrace tops the building.
“The façade design balances between the desire of the client to create a striking building and the restrictive architectural conditions in that part of Beijing, demanding greys and beiges.” says MVRDV co-founder Jacob van Rijs, “Depending on the viewpoint both parties can be satisfied as the façade material appears differently when looking at different angles, it varies from subtle grey to all colours of the rainbow.”
Images via MVRDV