Alienation of the classics
Yiwu City in Zhejiang Province is not only the nation-wide and world-famous small commodity collection and distribution center, but also is inhabited by a great number of Arabians and the Hui people. They live and settle here for business, and many Arabians view it as their second hometown. They have brought with them their food and costume culture into this commercial city, a hinterland of Jiangsu and Zhejiang area, thus a unique urban culture and street sight is created here.
The proprietor JIAMILA Fashion is one of the representative brands, committed to the design and manufacture of turban and Muslim costume. Based on Islam culture, it creates diversified ornament choices for Muslim women. Therefore, the proprietor hopes that as the flagship store of the brand, the JIAMILA Islamic Fashion Flagship Store should entail religious belief implication and local features in the space.
Here we'd like to quote Paulhans Peters' point of view "Alienation of the Classics" in his article Analogous Architecture: Radical Proposal for a Poetic Architecture published in Baumeister: "Alienation does not mean imitation or adherence of a certain style. It is more of an improvisation. Even though it is implicitly expressed, the eternal quintessence in the classical can still be universally perceived."
The internal logic of the design is to translate the classical architectural vocabulary with regionalism and religious belief implications, to imitate a poetic and sublime substance in reality, and to defamiliarize this reality so that it can break away from the bound of external form.
There are three major strategies in the design to fulfill the basic features of the commercial space: the first is to transform the intense brand characteristics into spatial features to empower it with unique market superiority and an image which is not possible to copy; the second is to attract customers by creating a special ambient with the space going viral; and the third is to draw pedestrians step by step, to break up the area limitation on the ground floor and to further develop businesses on 2nd and 3rd floor.
The boutique is located in the Wanda Plaza in central Yiwu City, where there are four 3.1m*12.5m shop lining along the street. The internal height is all 9.5m. When the partition walls are demolished, there is only one structural column and the corresponding crossbeam in the central position. It provides freedom and basis for the design to break away from the pure ornament so as to achieve spatially shape.
To fulfill the requirement with no less than 400m² display area by the proprietor, the space is partitioned into three floors vertically, and is built with a two-floor atrium of equal height around the symmetry created by the structural column and crossbeam. By virtue of the visual effect and guidance of the atrium, the dilemma of little stream of customers on 2nd and 3rd floors are solved and the ground floor business of over 100m² can also be expanded upward.
To highlight the regionalism in "Alienation of the Classics", we inlay a pendentive structure in the Byzantium traditional architectural vocabulary into the atrium, which will not only support the newly-added partition boards, but also form a holistic spatial system with the above cylindrical structure. It provides possibility for the creation of a special ambient and religious belief implications. Moreover, such spatial features comply with the rules of image trending on the internet, so the shop image will definitely go viral among We-Media.
The pendentive in the atrium and the crossbeam in the original structure will attract customers by a sense of spatial ceremony. Thus, it will become a popular and widespread image. Pendentive is a transitional architectural component to make a dome on a square-shaped plane. The first use of it in a commemorative architecture is the Church of Hagia Sophia in the mid-6th century. It is also a major structural form in Byzantine architecture. The regionalism and the sublimity in such a structural form is transplanted into the design and defamiliarized as an atrium composed by concentric circles and ovals. Meanwhile, the dome that is supposed to be supported by the pendentive is replaced by a cylindrical structure with artificial light, casting beams like the sacred radiance in the palace hall.
The original crossbeam that breaks up the integrity of the pendentive will maintain the original framework in the architecture. It is the start of the entire design and also an important entry point of “Alienation of the Classics”, because it weakens the appearance of the stereotyped dome with pendentive so that the design goes beyond a complete imitation of the classical and the eternal quintessence in the classical design is enlarged.
The ambulatory showcase for costume exhibition on ground floor is delimited by several arc-shaped walls, ceilings, floors, hangers and hidden track lighting which are formed by concentric circles around the central column in the atrium. It creates an ambulatory shopping route with several radial entries and exits connected to the atrium. The ambulatory layout and radiant design will give full play to the surrounding walls for exhibition, and also create a more compact and ceremonious atrium space.
Positioned at one side of the central column axis, the spiral staircase is enclosed in a cylinder to connect space on all three floors. With vivid colors and tremendous size, it will become a key to attract customers to 2nd and 3rd floors. By virtue of the eccentric layout, the staircase will break the equilibrium and symmetry in the overall design. It decomposes the pure imitation of classical symmetry and implies the "alienation".
Inside the spiral staircase, well-proportioned lighting features are installed under the steps so the entire staircase will emit rays of light outward to highlight and attract customers to walk up. In addition, this light source and the beams from the dome will form a major light source for the three floors. The design aims to create a sense of "alienation" on the third level with moderate visual effect apart from the layout and space.
The heavy pendentive is enveloped by the winding corridor so the customers on ground floor covered by the pendentive are able to see the back of it (a back side that does not exist in classics). The cave-like appearance will arouse the desire of customers on ground floor to see what it is like in the atrium.
In correspondence to the showcase on ground floor, the layout on 2nd floor is also made by the form of concentric circles. High hangers are placed against the wall while short hangers against the handrails to partition turban and costume exhibition areas.
The oval cylindrical structure is supported by the pendentive across ground floor and 1st floor. The hollow cylinder not only extends the space and reinforces the lighting for ground floor, but also constitutes the spatial framework of the 2nd floor. The surface of the cylinder will serve as the exhibition wall to display the latest products to VIP customers along with the corridor, surrounded by children activity room, VIP lounge, conference area and office area.
Covered by the dome, the ground floor has a broad view; the view on the 1st floor is confined by the "cave"; and only when the customers arrive at the 2nd floor can they peek through the crevices to see what exactly it is like. The customers will get defamiliarized with the classical design step by step, but somehow still feel familiar at the same time. They will perceive the self-evident characteristics in classical design.