Woods Bagot has unveiled its design proposal for the renovation of Dahua 1935 - an 82-year-old former textile mill in a historic part of Xi'an city centre just next to Daming Palace, the Tang Dynasty's imperial home, which is today a major tourist attraction.
When completed in 2019, the 65,000 m2 space will reopen as a world-class entertainment destination with a strong retail offering that sensitively weaves together industrial and ancient heritage with contemporary and innovative elements. In addition to hosting major global and national fashion brands, visitors will be entertained, educated and inspired by unique attractions such as Cirque du Soleil. Alongside a variety of food and beverage outlets, there will be an arts centre, theatres, a museum and a hotel. A new subway station set to open in 2018 will be the main transport node for visitors. Currently home to a museum and underutilised shopping mall, Woods Bagot's design concept will revitalise the site's retail strategy and deliver a fun and forward-looking creative environment that preserves and celebrates all the layers of imperial and industrial history that have shaped the site.
'Line,' which is also pronounced 'Xi'an' in Chinese, guides the design concept overall, hinting at textile manufacturing but also evoking a sense of dynamic forward motion, lineage and connectivity - between people, spaces and between the past and future. The concept also references the efficiency of the traditional linear, grid-like layout of the textile mill itself, a collection of buildings and courtyards that provide exciting possibilities for zoning and navigation.
The factory buildings will be transformed into six individually themed spaces - including a colourful and creative 'dream workshop' to inspire ideas and an 'amusement workshop' which will feature Fosun's Cirque du Soleil. Visitors will also be able to shop for fresh local produce in the 'market workshop' and revive themselves in the 'power workshop' which will showcase major sports brands in an environment that celebrates health and wellness. The remaining two zones will be spaces that promote the enjoyment of music, culture and learning.
Across the site, a striking exhibition of string and line-formed art and sculptures inspired by the ancient capital city's rich history and culture will draw tourists and present focal points that will delight and engage.
"These historic buildings already have their own story to tell. We want to let them speak for themselves and then build on that story by writing the next chapter," stated Ian Png, Principal, Woods Bagot. "Our design binds together old and new and turns conflict into dialogue, creating vitality from contrast. When it's complete, Dahua 1935 will set the bar for retail-led historic renovation projects in China and create a world-class retail and entertainment destination for this vibrant city."