INAX for L'avenue Shanghai by Jun Aoki & Associates
- Jun Aoki & Associates
- INAX Custom Architectural Ceramics
Conceptualised by Jun Aoki & Associates, L'Avenue Shanghai's organic form - clad in INAX architectural ceramics - was derived from the client's brief for a luxurious and unique place with a distinctive appearance. Rising to 28-storeys, L'Avenue has been shaped to evoke the soft folds of a Fortuny dress.
The building complex houses an array of high end retail shops on the lower levels - including the Louis Vuitton flagship store - and offices on the upper levels.
Executed by Hong Kong architects Leigh & Orange, L'Avenue is fluid in shape and uses reinforced concrete finished with white, ceramic, glazed tiles created in consultation with INAX Japan. When designed and applied correctly, ceramic cladding is extremely durable resisting perpetual changes in temperature and atmospheric attack from pollution, acid rain and smog. The L'Avenue facade systems were designed to both lend thermal resistance as well as create a reflective heat shield using the tiles.
"Such a commercial complex usually has a structure composed of a foundation at the bottom and a separate tower above it, ensuring the building volume determined by regulations and necessary functions," explains architect Mirei Uchibe. "For this project, however, we took a different approach; we aimed to create a continuous design from top to bottom, by wrapping the "volume = body" with "skin = dress." We thought that a building with a gentle, soft figure, as if drawn free-hand, would strike the right note amid the masculine buildings."
Glass curtain walls were used for the upper commercial levels, but for the "skin" on the lower levels reinforced concrete shells with free-form surfaces were used to create a sense of grace. "When exploring finishing materials for the free-form surface on the lower levels from various perspectives, it naturally occurred to us to use small-size tiles," says architect Yoshi Miyauchi. "I think the decisive factor in determining the finishing material was ease of installation on the free-form surface."
A variety of materials in varying size were considered - from large casted-aluminum blocks to small mosaic tiles made of glass or stainless steel. Among the options was ceramic tile for which they consulted with INAX who proposed a trial production.
"Although the trial pieces were carved out by hand, we were provided with highly accurate pieces in a prompt manner, which greatly helped our study on the finishing material," says Miyauchi. "We were impressed with the highly sophisticated craftsmanship."
To arrive at the final beautiful round-shaped white tile the architects conducted exhaustive tests and development of prototypes including studies on types of clay body and glaze.
"There were almost no tile manufacturers that could offer custom tiles or accept requests to adjust details," says Miyauchi. "I feel fortunate that Dinaone agreed to produce a small lot of trim tiles essential for the installation."
"I learned a lot from conducting many studies taking into account specific shapes that could be achieved with tiles from the early phase of the project," he says. "We were able to explore and expand the design possibility freely thanks to the flexibility of custom tiles. As a result, I feel we achieved something great, taking full advantage of custom tiles."
Yoshi Miyauchi - A former staff of Jun Aoki &Associates
Mirei Uchibe - A former staff of Jun Aoki &Associates
Satoshi Suzuki - Senior Manager, Tile Project East Japan Sales Dept. Dinaone Corporation
Building Name: L'Avenue Shanghai
Architect: JUN AOKI AND ASSOCIATES
Principal: Jun Aoki
Project Architects: Marcel Peter, Toru Murayama, Mirei Uchibe, Yoshi Miyauchi
Local Architect and Construction Management: Leigh & Orange Ltd.
Address: No.99 Xianxia Road, Changning District, Shanghai, China
Use: Offices and a shopping mall
Size: 28 aboveground stories; 4 underground stories
Structure: Reinforced concrete, steel
Design and Construction Period: March 2007 - June 2013
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