The Chongwenmen M-Cube is a vast new shopping center in central Beijing, intended by the Dutch architecture studio MVRDV to function as both billboard and destination.

The faceted façade was specially angled to give the best views of the building from the surrounding streets, with sizable display screens combined with a cladding of specially developed pearlescent ceramic blocks. Their coated surfaces create a shimmering optical wonder that constantly changes depending on your viewpoint. Although the M-Cube is close to some of the city’s historic hutongs (and the Temple of Heaven) it was in danger of succumbing to the bland functionalism of so much of Beijing’s modern built environment. By treating the  33,000-square-meter structure as an animated building, MVRDV hopes to give back to the streetscape as well as lure shoppers into the multi-floored shopping experience. A roof garden on the upper level offers a retreat from the traffic and noise while remaining all but invisible from the street, and there’s also direct access from the city’s subway system.

Distance from Conrad Beijing: 20 minutes by cab


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