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DEC 2022 / JAN 2023 – Design Profile – Aedas

Aedas is the world’s only local and global architecture and design practice driven by global sharing of research, local knowledge and international practice. Here, RLI sits down with Ed Lam, Executive Director at Aedas to discuss the company’s Link CentralWalk project which opened earlier this year after undergoing a substantial renovation.

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The business is home to over 1,200 creative minds with design studios across the globe that create world-class design solutions with deep social and cultural understanding of the communities we design for.

Link CentralWalk was originally built in 2007 and was one of the largest shopping malls within the CBD of Futian, Shenzhen and was a popular mall for many of the youngsters at the time. With the rapid CBD development in the last 15 years, CentralWalk was at the threshold of Futian’s urbanisation’s new era, with numerous commercial towers rising along the Fuhua Road and nearby shopping malls finishing their renovation. Futian CBD now becomes the busiest and most well-developed commercial district in Shenzhen, which necessitated an upgrade for CentralWalk.

Located in the Futian CBD area of Shenzhen sitting on the central axis of the district, Link CentralWalk is surrounded by a network of financial institutions, civic and retail centres and convenient transportation. Aedas took up the task to enhance their client Link REIT’s first large-scale asset in Mainland China and one of the largest shopping malls in the region.

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Aerial View of Link CentralWalk

“Prior to the renovation, the interiors did not integrate with the surrounding greenery. The enhancement plan is chiefly about strengthening indoor-outdoor relationship, improving connectivity and circulation, increasing commercial value for every retailer through strategical planning, interior and façade makeover as well as landscape upgrade,” explains Ed Lam, Executive Director at Aedas. “To ensure a smooth circulation, the design redresses the spatial layout by introducing a central spine and pocket spaces along key intersections which serve as distinguishable signposts for visitors. The existing loop breaks into two characteristic retail wings, seamlessly connected to the piazzas in the east and west, as well as the two focal points (main entrance and event atrium) along the spine.”

The project has been positioned as an “urban paradise on the central axis of Futian” and provides a sensory journey where visitors could immerse themselves in a “slow space”. The cyclical nature of the four seasons inspired the zoning of CentralWalk, in which visitors are afforded to stroll effortlessly along the retail wings or to access the surrounding urban space from either direction. Based on sectors’ spatial qualities, four seasons themed areas (spring, summer, autumn and winter) are created, with corresponding colour and greenery application. Besides still visual scenes, specific aroma, background music, interactive projection system and snow blower are applied to heighten visitors’ senses, submerging them into an environment full of nature and wonder, reminding them about the importance of protecting the natural environment in this fast-moving urban city.

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Spring – West Wing

The scene of spring is assigned to the west wing of the mall, which connects with the Sunken Garden of Joy. Shops from the inner circle protrude out to the void edge to improve visibility and increase leasable area. Several picture frames with seasonal plant decoration are set rhythmically to activate the façade.

The north section of the mall mainly consists of mega-sized shops, cinema and the Carrefour Supermarket without any direct linkage. Summer is the theme designated here and the circular barrisol ceiling with the swirling feature imitates the bright and shiny sunny day.

Autumn is the scene for the east wing, which connects with the Garden of Leisure. A similar design to the west wing was applied here as it also has several picture frames with seasonal plant decorations set rhythmically to activate the façade.

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Autumn – East Wing

Finally, the south atrium is home to a mood of coolness as the season of winter is front and centre in this section of the renovated mall. It is home to main entrance to the mall and features vehicular drop off.
New central arcades are introduced to all levels to link up the North Main Atrium from the South Main Entrance directly. The sensational starry galaxy effect will be experienced as guests are walking along. The effect is created by the triangular perforations in the metal panel and the densely spaced LED spot is lighting at the upper layer.

Link CentralWalk is thoroughly laced with green design elements. On the featured green roof and piazzas, vertical green walls are integrated to break the monotonous tone of the existing façade and harmonise the building with its surrounding greenery.

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Winter – Main Entrance Atrium

“Advancing the design narrative, a green belt further extends the greenery from the outdoor landscape into the interior space of the mall resulting in greater connectivity as well as visual continuity; green walls and planters are set along the void edges to highlight the themed zone’s seasonal features. Seasonal greenery from the ceiling guides people to the main atrium and the interactive projection effect at entrance gate provides an interesting arrival experience entering from the piazza. This blurring of indoor and outdoor creates a true oasis in this busy city centre,” explains Lam.

“CentralWalk makes for an ideal locale for social activities and relaxation. Designating themes of fun versus leisure, the piazzas are redesigned with increased accessibility, public seating and communal spaces perfect for alfresco dining, seasonal events, interactive art installations, leisure activities and more. CentralWalk is a green-inspired hub that will set the new benchmark for retail architecture and urban living,” Lam concludes.