Diamonds from the Rough

Vanke Co., Ltd, City Lights Exhibition Hall

To Project Types

Taihu, China | 9000 SF

Unearthing secret, geometrical beauty on the outskirts of Beijing.
Close up of canopy Punctures in the canopy’s rippling, silver surface allows light shine through at night.

With a couple simple design moves, a nondescript retail center on the outskirts of Beijing is transformed into a compelling, new space. Serving the metropolis’s quickly-growing housing market, the City Lights Exhibition Hall hosts a full scale, model unit and lifestyle spaces to give prospective apartment buyers a taste of the sophistication and elegance they can expect from Vanke’s newest residential high-rise.

Before versus after of the building A monochromatic façade unifies the building as it celebrates its geometry.

Hidden below the drab exterior of an existing retail store, the building’s crystalline form was waiting to be discovered. Previously broken up by large, bi-colored glass panels and a dark, metal grid on its front, this renovation stripped the building down to its structure, recladding it in a more subtle combination of transparent and reflective glass, and emphasized its vertical seams to more clearly express the building’s dynamic volume.

Diagram of canopy's geometry The canopy wraps around existing diamond volumes, like a ribbon around a gift.
View of building and canopy Plants and parasols peek from behind the ribbon, revealing glimpses of the second floor balcony.

This dynamism is amplified by a large stainless steel canopy, which projects 13 feet over the glass walls of the first floor, its wavering surface softly reflecting its surroundings. Married to the water-effect of the canopy’s rippled surface, a script was used to punch a computer-generated pattern of holes through this material, enriching its texture during the day and making it a surface of shimmering light at night.

Detail image of the holes punch into the canopy material A script was used to punch a computer-generated pattern of holes through the stainless steel of the canopy.

While unifying the look of the building, the canopy also inspired a dynamically-graded landscape design, which carved out sharply-angled planes and a stepped water feature to echo the building’s movement.

Night time view of landscape design Echoed in the landscape, the texture and angles of the building draw together the whole site.