Rotterdam-based MVRDV presents their latest project, Bulgari’s flagship store in Shanghai. this is the third collaboration between MVRDV and the Italian jewelry brand.
Bulgari Shanghai façade project makes use of a visual motif inspired by the portals and cornices of Bulgari’s first original boutique on Rome’s Via Dei Condotti, adopting the recognizable visual identity that now distinguishes their stores worldwide.
However, the architects wanted to differentiate themselves as the Shanghai façade is mostly windowless, and the cornice motif is employed in layered panels that form an Art-Deco-inspired pattern.
Art Deco is a theme that Shanghai and Bulgari have in common: the Chinese city’s status as a key port connecting East and West in the early 20th century gave it a rich tradition in this architectural style, while Bulgari’s Déco collection characterized its jewelry in the same period.
The façade takes on the materiality of fine jewelry with panels that resemble China’s most precious stone, jade. The result is a complex design, with layer upon layer of cross-cultural references; Art Deco architecture with a jewelry-like quality, combining the best of Eastern and Western culture.
The panels are made of compressed green glass, a unique material effect that creates a translucent finish. At night, a backlight behind the panels gives the façade a striking glow, highlighting the unique textural quality of the glass.
The glass is completely recycled, produced at the Magna factory in Teutschenthal, Germany, which specializes in glass treatment.
The project demonstrates the potential of sustainable recycled materials, even in luxury contexts, and takes one step towards MVRDV and Bulgari’s goal of store designs that are built using 100% circular economy materials.
Meanwhile, the backlight is engineered to minimize the façade’s energy footprint, using less than half the energy of a typical comparable installation.
“Our collaboration with Bulgari has yielded some fascinating material experiments,” says MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs.
“It’s a passion we share with them, albeit in different design disciplines. The Shanghai store encapsulates the value of these experiments: given the right treatment and detailing, leftover champagne and beer bottles, which would otherwise be thrown away, become a jewel for the city.”
Project: Bulgari Shanghai
Manufacturer: Magna Factory