Shopping with a view
Regent Building Material Supplies Company
With a breathtaking view over the former fishing village of Stanley Bay, sea view terraces, an amphitheatre and a waterfront promenade, it might at first sound like a description of a tourist village. Instead it is a shopping complex, masterfully modernised and redeveloped by the local practice CYS Associates. Thanks to a skilful interplay of volumes and materials catering for the needs of this popular tourist area, it has been successfully integrated with the surrounding landscape but without overwhelming it. Above and beyond the usual rhetoric of non-places, it is fair to say that shopping centres have a rulebook all of their own – and this applies in particular to the architecture. Whatever their location, they may choose the appearance a historic village, a cold hyper-technological space-age look or a Disneyland-style fairytale world. In this specific project, the uniqueness of the landscape has overshadowed any concept of a celebration of consumerism.
The Stanley Plaza project has embraced a spatial and semantic definition of “leisure lifestyle”. It caters for an international public consisting prevalently of tourists and business travellers, offering them a multifunctional format that combines medium to high-end retail services with leisure, dining, entertainment and socialisation spaces, underscored by typical stylistic features such as the public square, the gallery, the theatre and elements of urban design.
The modernisation work involved redesigning the layout and distribution routes, creating new vertical connections, upgrading the finishings and architectural elements such as solar screens and skylights, and remodelling the outdoor spaces by creating an amphitheatre, a playground and a dog-parking area.
The structure is open and permeable, its five levels lightened by jagged profiles and wooden shading structures that emphasise the sense of horizontal movement. This marks an unexpected departure from the standard architecture of Hong Kong based on vertical structures and intensive use of glass and steel – materials that are certainly present here but are not dominant. In no small part this is due to a harmonious dialogue with one of the oldest buildings on the island, the nearby Victorian-era Murray House. Built in 1844, the former headquarters of the British army and today a fashionable and nostalgic setting for luxury restaurants, this house is connected to Stanley Plaza by a panoramic walkway and is located at the focal point of lines of perspective radiating out from inside the shopping centre itself.
In keeping with the principle of maximising integration into the landscape, the unification of interior and exterior is also achieved by a successful use of materials, and in particular ceramics. The entire complex is paved with stone-effect porcelain (Absolute Stone line from Gardenia Orchidea), further demonstrating the levels of technological excellence attained by the Italian ceramic industry and its outstanding interpretation of stone. The Twin Press pressing process gives the tile surface a rough texture and a variability of colour typical of natural stone in which each individual module displays subtly different shades.
As a project within a project, the floor is designed as a composition of tiles of different sizes (30×30 cm, 30×60 cm, 60×60 cm) and colours (almond, walnut, anthracite). It has a number of functions: differentiating the functional areas, delineating routes, visually breaking up large surfaces with graphic patterns, confounding perspectives through an interplay of divergent lines, and decorating by means of geometric, abstract paintings. At the same time it combines a natural look with the high technical characteristics required of indoor and outdoor spaces subject to high foot traffic.
Gardenia Orchidea, Absolute Stone series
30x30, 30x60, 60x60 cm
almond, noce, antracite
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): classe 5
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10 gruppo B
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant