by Mrinmayee BhootSep 18, 2023
More often than not, car showrooms are some of the least designed spaces of the retail industry. Inundated with large empty spaces and fluorescent lighting, these showrooms lack the care and nuance of retail design offered to other types of products. Designed by CLOU Architects, the flagship store for Southwest China's biggest used luxury car trader defies this. With a focus on expansion and upgrading, the showroom in Chengdu's Shuangliu District in China demonstrates a remarkable blend of architectural innovation and aesthetic appeal.
The Hongmeng Car Showroom comprises two prominent buildings situated on a corner site. Though the showrooms themselves are relatively smaller when compared to the average market, their location at the major intersections of the city's roads gives them an advantage in terms of visibility. This is also why its location as a corner site is important. The designers clearly capitalise on this prominence by creating a striking red structure that commits itself to memory with ease. This, in addition to creating an immense brand recall value for the Hongmeng Car Showroom also references Parc de la Villette in Paris by Bernard Tschumi. It echoes the colour and finish of the material in addition to being defiant of traditional models of architecture.
Divided into the South Hall and the North Hall, the architectural concept of the retail store is driven by the pursuit of precision and logic in automotive design, as well as the refined aesthetics one has come to expect from luxury cars. CLOU Architects, with its team based in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Lisbon, worked with the belief that the architecture of the vehicle showroom itself should be designed in a consistent aesthetic manner, rooted in a rational appreciation. This is seen in the logical progression of spaces from showroom to offices along with the persistent visual language throughout.
The facade design features an open-glazed surface adorned with bright red roofs and side envelopes, creating a visually striking appearance. The architects employed two main materials, a high-gloss metal with a distinct shine and glass, to construct the pavilions. This emphasises a structure that presents a sleek and contemporary aesthetic, in a continued attempt to set itself apart from typical showrooms. The limited space available led to the implementation of a meandering, diagonal parking area, ensuring maximum efficiency and providing visitors with optimal views of the displayed cars.
The car display façade is predominantly composed of a simple floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall. This design choice incorporates alternating transparent and reflective glass panels, forming two serrated sides for each curtain wall. The interplay between transparent and reflective glass creates a unique visual effect that is meant to capture the attention of passersby and establishes a distinctive identity for the showroom.
The North Hall stands out with its distinctive architectural elements. The steel beam of the building is flipped up onto the roof, promoting a smooth flow of interior spaces while visually reinforcing the structural logic, which dictates large unobstructed spaces for the main display. Additionally, a striking red spiral shiny metal staircase design serves as a focal point within the reception wing. The transparent curtain wall allows car prototypes to be displayed alongside the staircase, creating a visually engaging experience for both the interior and exterior spaces. Above the extended roof, strategically positioned light cannons provide natural illumination, adding depth and breaking the flatness of the building's volume.
The South Hall, approximately half the size of the North Hall, mirrors the design language of the façade with a zigzag roof. This design element accentuates the building's form and provides a visual connection between the interior parts of the showroom and the exterior. The windows along the roof truss diffuse soft and even light into the interior, optimising the display effect. Both showrooms feature the same shade of red, serving as a distinctive marker at the intersection of main roads and reinforcing the visitor's identification and memory.
The Chengdu Hongmen Car Showroom showcases CLOU Architects' expertise in creating visually striking and functional spaces. The combination of open-glazed facades, bright red roofs, and zigzag roofscape adds an element of excitement and uniqueness to the showroom. Through the innovative use of comparably average materials, such as shiny metal and glass, and attention to spatial organisation, the design team has successfully created an architectural landmark that establishes a strong brand presence for Hongmeng. In the realm of car showrooms, where design often takes a backseat, CLOU Architects defy conventions with their design. They use colour and shapes cleverly to create a collection of spaces that captivates the senses and leaves a lasting impression on its visitors and passers by alike.
Name: Hongmeng Car Showroom
Location: Chengdu, China
Year of completion: 2022
Design Firm: CLOU architects
Design Team: Jan Clostermann, Lin Li, Qiao Ding, Dongfang Xie, Xiaoyang Ye, Yunzi Wang, Haiwei Xie, Julien Douillet，Linyu Li, Yujie Jin
LDI: Sichuan Architimes Design Co., LTD
MEP: Sichuan Architimes Design Co., LTD
Structure: Sichuan Architimes Design Co., LTD
Facade Consultant: B+C Genesis Architects Chengdu Co., LTD Construction Drawings: Sichuan Architimes Design Co., LTD