Sustainable architecture takes many forms, from environmentally-friendly materials to energy-efficient designs. In the case of the CapitaMall Nuohemule in Hohhot, Mongolia, it means converting an abandoned building into a vibrant and modern mall. 

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A spacious and white mall with multiple floors decorated with hanging plants

Clou Architects aimed to do more than simply refurbish the space. Instead, they created an expansive and multi-level garden throughout the 102,000 square meters mall. The blueprint serves to brighten the previously barren seven-story concrete structure with copious natural light throughout.

Related: Shopping mall design creates a balance with light and dark

A darkly lit room with a four-sided screen hanging from the ceiling

Additionally, the commercial space is filled with retail businesses. There also includes meeting spaces, children’s educational opportunities, event centers, restaurants, entertainment areas and sports facilities. 

An escalator with people walking off of it and the cut-out circles on the ceilings dripping with plants

On the other hand, indoor garden spaces connect each level with redesigned levels of atriums. Each level is filled with greenery and plants that clean the air and beautify the mall. As the first garden mall in Inner Mongolia, CapitaMall Nuohemule offers an escape from the long, dark seasons in the region. 

Shot downward through circle cutouts of the mall shows greenery surrounding each level

Furthermore, designers took inspiration from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. They incorporated layers of soft-edged gardens that flow into each other across, and between, levels of the mall. Lush landscaped planters across all levels cover a total of 2,000 square meters. They are made up of vignettes that incorporate water, rock gardens and rainforests. The replication of nature has even become home to animals such as fish and ducks.

A small garden that sits in the midst of a clean, white mall

Moreover, the mall has drawn in the surrounding community, who enjoy shopping, sports, entertainment and events inside the building. The CapitaMall Nuohemule sits next to the metro station for easy access to public transportation. 

A small green garden where two people are observing it off to the side

“In 2021, in its first year of operation, CapitaMall Nuohemule proved to be CapitaLand’s second most successful mall in Northern China, and led the Dianping ranking as Hohhot’s number one popular shopping and leisure destination,” as reported in a press release.

+ CLOU Architects

Images via Chill Shine