This retrofit project has converted the lobby of an existing hotel into a four-storey retail podium. Cornered at a major intersection and pedestrian crossing with 150m of site frontage, the Mandarin Gallery exhibits a commanding presence on Orchard Road.
Significantly reconfigured site conditions have established new pedestrian accessibility. By relocating a vehicular drop-off lane along Orchard Road to a linkage road at the site’s western boundary, the promenade has been widened and opened to pedestrian-only traffic. The hotel lobby originally on the ground level has also been repositioned to the fifth level in the process of reprogramming ground floors, permitting new retail spaces to interface with sidewalk foot traffic. An escalator blends the horizontal movement of pedestrian traffic with vertical movement, connecting the promenade directly with an elevated landing and mall entrance on the second storey.
Form and articulation work to engage pedestrian flows. At the scale of the building, the architects have implemented organic form to jointly mitigate the existing structure’s monumentality and establish further continuity between retail space and street space — Mandarin Gallery’s gentle glass curves can be described dually as a carving from the mall’s exterior and a bulging from the retail space within. The effect is a visual and programmatic conflation of the two spaces, dissolving the boundary line. Mandarin Gallery’s new façade and canopy project toward the street corners for extended presence within high-frequency circulation patterns.
Façade detailing techniques adapt the materiality of the building to the scale of the passerby. Repetitive glass units segment the curves of the façade’s double skin; these are inset with white light boxes, spandrel panels and dark vertical fins for further articulation of surface. This strategy is followed through to the curved canopy, where deep steel members support large fritted glass units. The canopy is suspended by tension cables from a fourth-level datum detailed to balance the verticality of the façade’s mullion system with an element of strong horizontality.