Xinjing Business Building / K11 Mall + Theaters

Project type: Office, Retail


Location: Bejiing, China


Time: 2011


Status: Concept Design Proposal


A Spiraling GRAFT of Functions


The K11 Brand is eliminating traditional borders between commerce and art, between shopping and exhibition; it is actively promoting a culturally enhanced urban lifestyle by fusing gallery spaces and shopping malls into a new typology.


Another word for fusing would be grafting —the term used in botany to enhance a species by grafting an elaborated scion onto a root with different properties and thus creating a cross-breed of superior qualities. Grafting is the principal design philosophy of our office, and starting with your request to fuse/graft different typologies we took the idea to a radical extreme.


In our project proposal all functions are supported by one undiscriminating building. All shops, cafés, restaurants, theaters, art galleries, and offices are aligned as horizontal platforms along a unifying spiral that loops from a sunken food court to the roof. The horizontal platforms articulate a rising move along the façade, thereby emphasizing the building’s direction to the crossing of the Second Ring road with Chong Wen Men Wai.

Aside from the large theater, which requires specified spaces and equipment as well as a defined location, all other functions can be distributed freely along the spiraling ramp. Offices, banks, travel agencies can be next to fashion stores and/ or art galleries. The functions are aligned along a continuous path, just like in a naturally grown urban street, except in our proposal, the street is elevated as a vertical city. Due to typical preferences the functions will most likely organize themselves with larger brand stores at the lower-levels, smaller boutiques in the mid-levels, and offices on the top-levels. But it could be easily envisioned that a more public-oriented office, like a travel agency or a bank, would like to occupy a space in the lower regions while a designer fashion store could utilize the loft-like top floors.


The spiral loops around an inner void, a central atrium which is dramatically inclined, a space that results from our consideration of the sunshade-related building restrictions that require an angled North façade for the building. The inclination creates a dramatic overhang at the spiral, so visitors will enjoy spectacular views while traveling up the ramp.


Along the path various theaters and stages are arranged, offering visitors the opportunity to expose themselves to their fellows in the play of “seeing and be seen.” Alternatively, these stages may also be utilized by actors, storytellers, and/ or musicians. The most prominent of these “stages along the way” is placed right above the main entrance at the West side. With the stage being elevated to the third floor, the show can be seen directly from the entry plaza. Moreover, the landscape at the northwest corner offers a stage-like area of stacked platforms and stairs that serve simultaneously as stands for an auditorium and as path to the subway entrance.


A similar setup is repeated to the east side, with an elevated stage facing the square in front of the Cao Xue Qin’s Residence, with stairs leading down to a sunken yard serving as stands. On the square itself, another platform offers a place for entertainments. Inside the building the short sides of the inner ramp become natural stages at every turn, especially at the entrance to the main theater itself. The entrance on the 4th floor and the foyers at the 5th and 6th floors are floor-to-ceiling glazed and face right into the main atrium, thereby turning the visitors of the theater to the actors on stage, viewed by the shoppers.


Our current layout assigns three locations as larger double-story art galleries. Nevertheless, the number of galleries and their size may be adjusted to your preferences or can even be changed during the time of use. All previously described “stages” are ideal locations for sculpture exhibitions as well.


The ground floor and B1 are grafted into one sunken yard. At two meters under street level, it is protected from the imposing traffic of the Second Ring road. It serves as the arrival station and entry-point to the subway and will be an ideal location for a food court. On the south and east sides there are wide stairs with integrated benches inviting visitors to sit, to rest, or to enjoy a given entertainment.


Due to its scale and festive type of use, the theater is the most special object in the project. We designed the inner theater itself as an outstanding red box. Covered in a red as intense as Yves Kleins famous blue all supporting functions, such as foyers, coat checks, bars, and the galleries to access the ranks are exposed. They are directly visible from the streets and the shopping mall. As the activities around the red theater box are exposed like all other functions in the building, the theater itself becomes part of the unified spiral of grafted functions.


The inside of the red box, the auditorium and stage, are a graft of Chinese and Western theater traditions. The stage itself is predominantly Chinese, but without the traditional view-obstructing front columns, which are substituted with curtains (taken from a Western theater typology) and which can easily be moved away for wider view-angles. In the default arrangement the auditorium has traditional Chinese seating at the ground floor, while curved balconies on the ranks above follow the view predominantly found in Western traditions. If the budget allows for advanced theater technology, then the central ground-floor zone could be equipped with a hydraulic floor to accommodate raised seating. The walls and most of the ceiling are covered in an intense red lattice framework which stems from a contemporary interpretation of traditional Chinese patterns.


Nature and sustainability are key features of the K11 Brand (and should be a prior concern for all architectural design). Accordingly, we emphasize the natural and sustainable expression of the building. The horizontal platforms which follow the spiraling ramp extend up to 2m beyond the glass at the south facade, serving as shading devices during the summer. The underside of these platforms, like most of the interior ceilings, are cladded in green certified wood. These wooden undersides will dominate the appearance of the building and will create a naturally warm and welcoming expression. On the upper side these balconies will carry continuous strips of bushes— evergreen all year-round. These will provide the feeling of a garden in front of every shop or office and will reduce solar reflections into the building.


Aside from the bushes, the materiality is reduced to wood + glass + exposed concrete. Concrete is needed for the construction of a building at this size. Keeping it exposed will reduce all further material used for cladding. The exposed concrete will require extensive detailing and coordination, but as a result material use will be minimized. Aside from structural purposes, the use of metals is reduced to HVAC louvers.


Aside from the above described sustainable material concept, we intend to equip the building with a coordinated mix of energy-saving systems.
These systems include:
– Natural shading (+ solar gain in winter)
– Low-E coated triple glazing
– Heat exchangers
– Controlled natural ventilation (linked to shut off AC system)
– Earth tunnels to precondition air intake
– Heat pumps using geothermal heat
– Solar collectors on the roof surface
– Low energy consuming and low heat emission LED lighting systems
– Low flow water appliances
– Grey water usage.


Please refer to the mechanical concept pages for further details.
In conjunction with the preferable location (with direct subway access, which provides additional points) we are confident to achieve a LEEDS Gold certification.