Shanghai Suhe MixC World

Shanghai Suhe MixC World

Kokaistudios’ New Urban Green Land Blends heritage, culture and retail.

Located on Shanghai’s Suzhou Creek, Shanghai Suhe MixC World blurs boundaries between the city’s past, present and future.

Shanghai Suhe MixC World

The project’s starting point was rethinking commercial spaces to better integrate with their surroundings.

The resulting ‘urban valley’ presents a brand-new public space in the city and sets a new benchmark for Shanghai.

In 2016, Kokaistudios was invited to participate in a competition for an underground shopping mall in Suhe Creek Green land. Instead, the design opted to present a brand-new public space in the city: a riverside green land with cultural and leisure facilities, incorporating a subterranean commercial area. Property developer CRLand preferred Kokaistudios’ vision for an ‘urban valley,’ the floor of which is a subterranean commercial space that merges into its green land surroundings through a series of stepped slopes.

Shanghai Suhe MixC World is located in 42,000 sqm of urban green land. According to the planning and design conditions, its above-ground buildings include the renovated and restored historical lilong group “Shenyu Li”, the only official Thean Hou Temple in downtown Shanghai. The newly planned four-storey gateway building in the northeast corner of the site and a 42-storey tower designed by Foster+Partners, which is the tallest landmark in the area, they together define the eastern boundary of the green land.

The new development plan for the Suhe Creek area represents a prospect of the local government’s plan to stitch up the two sides of the Suzhou River and revitalize the northern bank, which is an area of great significance as the meeting point of Shanghai’s past, present and future. To correlate the waterfront and hinterland functions of Suzhou River, and to enhance the function complexity and intensive use of waterfront area, is the starting point for Kokaistudio’s design.

Shanghai Suhe MixC World

Taking a holistic approach to the project, Kokaistudio’s vision was that of an urban valley.

The commercial space is located inside the valley; while its sides take the form of stepped access points. As well as a new 4-floor ‘gateway building,’ the project’s most important and unifying element is the aboveground green land itself. An attractive public space for local residents and visitors alike, it injects welcome greenery and fresh possibilities into this previously overlooked corner of Shanghai.

Physical connections between the public green land and commercial space are made visible by six overground openings. Designed to merge with the ground-level green area so as to blur boundaries between above and below, their organic-shape curves incorporate planted steps transitioning down into the space.

Shanghai Suhe MixC World

The pebble-shaped openings incorporate entrances to the underground commercial space, and are located either side of the bisecting road. Partially planted and with occasional seating areas along their route, as well as coffeeshops, they recall the gentle slopes of a valley or stepped tea fields. With escalators alongside for accessibility, entrances merge with the surrounding landscape, with only their canopies visible from the green land above. Another entrance is via the new four-floor commercial building. The structure is located next to the office tower, aesthetically uniting the site’s recent phases of development through materials.

Physically connecting the site’s two halves is a new footbridge crossing Fujian North Road.

The bridge boasts spectacular views across the Suzhou River, making it an attractive vista point for tourists. It is also the location of a primary access point to the mall below. An elevator transports visitors direct to the venues second basement level, and an adjacent open spiral staircase transports shoppers past the mall.

Shanghai Suhe MixC World

Further linking above and below is a pair of artworks by Hong Kong-based creative studio, AllRightsReserved, and German artist collective, Inges Idee. Family Orchestra, is a giant sculpture of two cartoon elephants gazing at each other, linking the ground-level green land with subterranean commercial area. Their curved the bodies, resembling a trumpet and a tuba, echo the shape of the openings. Striking a similarly playful tone, Up We Go! features a child seemingly mid-stride as he steps through the landscape and out of one of the green land’s openings. The character’s elongated legs, which traverse both basement levels to emerge on the terraced slope above, create a connection between above and below.

Inside the mall, two enclosed areas have been designed to physically and visually connect with the site’s significant culture heritage, Shenyu Li and Thean Hou Temple. The commercial space located directly below is succinctly integrated with the historic heritage on the ground floor and compactly locates the entrance, axis and underground public atrium. Kokaistudios’ interior design team extracted elements from the structure of the traditional lilong house and apply these to the design. The combination of the glass roof windows and the lightweight wooden rafters ceiling recalled the memory of history. Designed as “a dialogue between commercial and heritage”, they integrate the conservation building with the commercial public space as a spatial technology.

Shanghai Suhe MixC World is one of Kokaistudio’s most innovative shopping mall project.

It is a public space for fun and relaxation. As transplanted trees grow, they will provide welcome shade for green land goers’ comfort and enjoyment. In a city as dense as Shanghai, and where a majority of residents do not have access to a private garden, green lands are of vital importance for recreation, wellbeing, and protecting the local environment.

The concept of “shared vitality and win-win value” between green land and commercial is based on the full collaboration among designers and various administrative departments of the government (landscape, planning, cultural protection, fire protection, etc.), the developer, commercial operators and engineers. In particular, the determination of the scale and shape of the “valley” requires rational calculation and dynamic balance of different elements, so as to maximize the comprehensive quality of urban public space and landscape environment, meanwhile to minimize the impact of urban infrastructure, equipment and evacuation route. The cities after the epidemic favor high-quality spaces built with green living in mind, which is also a catalyst for urban economy growth in the future.

Shanghai Suhe MixC World

The design concept of “Urban Valley” in Shanghai Suhe MixC World is a result of the demand for urban renewal.

When this area called for a high-level green land to compensate for the lack of green in the neighborhood, the decision makers are immensely forward-thinking to further the corporation of commercial and green land through this “Urban Valley”. In the joint efforts of the government and the developer, the site is able to house urban infrastructures, metro transportation center, preserved culture heritage, office tower, public green land and commercial space through unified design and construction, which will further lead to comprehensive regeneration of the adjacent areas. Kokaistudios is honored to be one of the key participants in witnessing the design empowerment of this project.

Shanghai Suhe MixC World

Location: Shanghai, China
Client: CR Land, Shun Tak Holdings
Service Scope:
① master plan of Shanghai Suhe MixC World Central Eco Green land and the underground commercial space;
② architecture design of the underground commercial space;
③ interior design of Shenyuli and Thean Hou Temple’s underground commercial space;
④architecture and interior design of the northeast side building.
Grand Opening: October 2022
Site area: about 50,000 sqm
Commercial GFA: about 60,000 sqm
Design Company: Kokaistudios
Chief Architects: Andrea Destefanis, Filippo Gabbiani
Architecture Design Director: Li Wei
Architecture Design Team: Zhantao Qin, Eva Maria Paz Taibo, Yoko Zhang, Bohua Guan, Anna-Maria Austerweil, Jingjing Jiang, Xiang Ding, Hiro Wang, Dongyin Li, Wanli Xu, Pablo Zhao, Zoe Cheng, Xinlu Jiang
Interior Design Director: Rake Wang
Interior Design Team: Sara Zhang, Qing Chang, Chenyu Huang, Ru Chen, Jiaqi Li, Shuhao Chen
Photography & Video: Terrence Zhang
Text: Frances Arnold