MVRDV designs jade-like storefront for Bulgari Shanghai

The Rotterdam-based firm MVRDV uses recycled champagne bottles to create the elevation for the luxury Italian jewellery brand’s flagship store in Shanghai.

by Zohra KhanPublished on : Dec 14, 2021

The third in the series of façade design projects for Bulgari, Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has crafted a Jade-like glass exterior for the Italian jewellery brand’s new flagship store in Shanghai. Housed within the city’s popular mall Shanghai Plaza 66 and facing the Nanjing Road, the storefront directly connects to the brand it houses, revealing itself as a piece of jewellery, similar to what Bulgari would make.

Bulgari Shanghai is the third flagship storefront project in MVRDV’s ongoing partnership with the luxury Italian jewellery brand| Bulgari Shanghai | MVRDV | STIRworld
Bulgari Shanghai is the third flagship storefront project in MVRDV’s ongoing partnership with the luxury Italian jewellery brand Image: © Bulgari

Crafted out of green and transparent champagne bottles, the façade design has been drawn from two key influences: the design of the portals and cornices of the luxury brand’s first boutique store in Rome’s Via Condotti, and Shanghai’s historic Art Deco architecture. The form of the cornices is a recurring motif that MVRDV experimented to create openings across all three of its projects for Bulgari. Combining asymmetrical patterns and local materials, the core idea has remained the same: to realise an innovative and sustainable project which remains true to the heritage of the brand as well as the context. However, unlike MVRDV’s previous storefronts— a marble veined elevation illuminated by gold light for Bulgari Kuala Lumpur (2018) and a jewel-like brass patterned frontage for Bulgari Bangkok (2020) —Bulgari Shanghai has no fenestrations. “The cornice motif,” as per MVRDV, “is replicated in layered panels that form an Art Deco inspired pattern.”

The panels, resembling China’s most precious stone Jade, are made from champagne and beer bottles | Bulgari Shanghai | MVRDV | STIRworld
The panels, resembling China’s most precious stone Jade, are made from champagne and beer bottles Image: © Bulgari

Explaining the process of creating the panels and the idea behind it, MVRDV Associate Director, Aser Giménez-Ortega, shares, “The ambition was to create a new Jade, but of course, in an innovative and sustainable way. It’s a glass façade, and it is 100 per cent recyclable. It’s made from pieces of bottles that are with no pigments; we used green, and transparent bottles to create a mist, and to melt them to create large panels that resemble the Jade features.”

  • Green bottles without pigments were used to create the facade panels | Bulgari Shanghai | MVRDV | STIRworld
    Green bottles without pigments were used to create the facade panels Image: © Bulgari
  • The breaking of glass in the Magna factory | Bulgari Shanghai | MVRDV | STIRworld
    The breaking of glass in the Magna factory Image: © Bulgari
  • Closer detail of the treated glass surface | Bulgari Shanghai | MVRDV | STIRworld
    Closer detail of the treated glass surface Image: © Bulgari
  • The cutting of glass into panels | Bulgari Shanghai | MVRDV | STIRworld
    The cutting of glass into panels Image: © Bulgari

The panels were produced at the Magna factory in Teutschenthal, Germany – a specialist in glass treatment, and these were designed to be backlit to reveal their textual appearance at night. As per MVRDV, the outcome is a complex design, with layer upon layer of cross-cultural references; Art Deco architecture with a jewellery-like quality, combining the best of eastern and western culture. The gold-coloured brass trim gives the façade an appearance like jade jewellery.

A finished façade panel | Bulgari Shanghai | MVRDV | STIRworld
A finished façade panel Image: © Bulgari

In the project’s official video, MVRDV founding partner Jacob Van Rijs highlights another key feature of the design. He says, “The association is with Jade and at the same time it is completely something else. It’s made from different types of glass melted together, but in a way that you still see the different pieces. It’s almost like a mysterious liquid. And the cool thing is that it has this translucency and the depths that are in the Jade are also in the fact that the material gets a certain depth that when you look, the light comes through.”

The façade is backlit to create a jewel-like appearance at night | Bulgari Shanghai | MVRDV | STIRworld
The façade is backlit to create a jewel-like appearance at night Image: © Bulgari

The project has been executed keeping in mind the potential of recycled materials and sustainability in design processes especially in luxury contexts, one step to achieve 100 per cent circular economy. Yielding some interesting material explorations, in this case with leftover champagne and beer bottles which otherwise would have ended up in landfills, as per Van Rijs, the project gave shape to a jewel for the city.

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