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Shang Xia by Kengo Kuma and Associates

The interior of this Beijing store reinterprets lattice screens and brickwork while dematerialising boundaries.

Shang Xia by Kengo Kuma and Associates


January 8th, 2013

The tradition of latticework in Chinese architecture is a long one. Geometry, symbolism and mechanical considerations have each influenced the design of lattice screens, which often served as a counterpoint to an outdoor view.

At Beijing’s Shang Xia store, Kengo Kuma and Associates have used extruded aluminium to create lattice-like screens that shape space. Here, the pattern is driven by structural demands, changing in density as the form dictates.

Shang Xia

The aluminium screens, which form wall partitions and cloak the ceiling, also recall brickwork. The staggered edges create an impression of dematerialisation.

Notions of density, solidity and porosity are played with further at the rear of the store, where rooms are lined with bricks made from compressed tea leaves.

Shang Xia

The reinvention of a traditional Chinese architectural element is an apt design move for this high-end brand, which recalls the heritage of Chinese design and craftsmanship.

Shang Xia sells furniture, fine decorative objects, accessories, and luxurious garments. The brand was established by designer Jiang Qiong Er with the Hermes Group in 2008 to create a 21st-century lifestyle based on the finest of Chinese design traditions.

Shang Xia

The words ‘shang xia’, says the brand’s website, embody the concept of ‘up’ and ‘down’ and the continuous flow of energy. The layering of the aluminium screens in the store interior, say the architects, makes you feel as though you are in a mysterious cloud.

The extruded aluminium consists of three H-shaped types (with heights of 60mm, 90mm and 135mm) and two I-shaped types (at 100mm and 200mm). At the upper and lower regions of the space, where the loads on the screen are concentrated, the shorter type (60mm) of aluminium has been used. This creates a density of material and reduces transparency.

In between, where the load is smaller, taller sections have been used and glimpses through the screen are less obscured. The changes in openness and transparency create a sense of subtle movement.

Shang Xia

Shang Xia is located in China World Mall at the China World Trade Centre in Beijing’s central business district.

Kengo Kuma and Associates

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