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Heatherwick Studio updates the Pacific Place shopping mall with a new, natural form of luxury writes Rachel Lee-Leong.
Pacific Place was built in the 1980s as a luxury shopping and entertainment complex. Despite sitting comfortably at the top of Hong Kong’s retail heap, the shopping mall – a podium for four towers that consist of office space, four five-star hotels, serviced apartments and gourmet dining destinations – was not immune to the ravages of time. After over two decades of wear and tear Pacific Place was well in need of a makeover. For this, UK architecture firm Heatherwick Studio was commissioned to “contemporise” the shopping complex.
The refurbishment was far from the skin-deep facelifts one is used to seeing in Asian cities like Hong Kong. Heatherwick Studio was looking to change, indeed redefine, the shopping experience at every level and scale. This included working closely with graphic design studio Mode to develop a new brand for Pacific Place in addition to a redesign of its interior and exterior.
A topography of steel in the roof of the standalone restaurant is expressed both inside and out. (Photo above courtesy of Heatherwick Studio).
The firm wanted to “humanise” the mall through the use of warmer, more tactile natural materials, starting with the exterior.
The mall is cloaked in an organic shell of Bedonia stone in a strata design featuring five different finishes – bush-hammered, sandblasted, brushed, flamed, honed and polished – each one highlighting the various textures and colours inherent in the stone. Cut into curved, hockey-stick shaped pieces at corners or pulled back like a curtain, the stone takes on a soft, almost fluid appearance.
The redesign extended to curved glass elevator profiles.
This language of sweeping curves and soft rounded corners is prevalent throughout the interior as well. Handrails end in soft arcs, glass elevators take on curved profiles and even concierge desks follow the same rounded aesthetic – a welcome change from the previously hard and angular mien of the shopping mall.
Timber-veneered blocks sit beneath a resurrected skyline.
One of the most significant changes made was the replacement of the previously dated, pyramid skylights – possibly the aftermath of I.M. Pei’s highly celebrated glass pyramid for the Lourve Museum in the 80s. In its place, Heatherwick Studio installed a flat skylight, which features three-dimensional patterns that let through soft, dappled light into the mall.
Read the full story in Cubes magazine issue #54 out now at Singapore newsstands.
Photography: Iwan Baan