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Atelier DYML: YUE City is located next to Xiwan Road in the northern edge of Liwan District in Guangzhou, China. After going through a demanding 600 days of transformation effort, it was unveiled to public in September 26th 2020 as the largest shopping mall in the western district and the second largest in overall Guangzhou city, turning a new page in urban revival.




Back in the 80’s, the site was once a cement production plant which was an iconic landmark of the developing communities. In 2006, in accordance with the government’s vigorous plan to upgrade the business service industries, and as part of the three major urban reform projects at the time, the plant was demolished to make way for the Fortune World International Footwear Wholesale Plaza which housed more than 3000 tenants. It was a historical effort ever made in the local wholesale industry to consolidate majority of the footwear wholesalers under one roof.

However, with the fast growing competitions particularly the e-commerce, the traditional wholesale market has become lethargic and obsolete. Many dull and cumbersome wholesale big boxes were either converted into different uses or left vacant.




In 2018 Yuexiu Group approached DYML as the lead designer and was tasked to convert the existing building into a regional shopping landmark that will fill the huge retail void in the Liwan and neighboring districts.



原建筑条件 Existing Structure



The existing building was four identical square blocks, 100m long by 90m wide, 5 levels above ground and 2 levels below, a total of 280,000sm of building area organized by cruciform shaped promenades. At the intersection was a majestic 1,700sm circular plaza capped with a domed skylight. There was a five levels annex at the east side of the main building, used to serve predominantly as loading docks of the wholesale stores. Surrounding the building particularly the west side were huge entry plazas with no distinctive identities. Meanwhile, the facade was composed of identical square boxes all around which was quite easy to lose direction in such symmetry and lack of hierarchy. Clearly, it was designed for a wholesale market and has becomes out of place.

The existing building posed a huge limitation for major changes. With time, cost and sustainability in consideration, we have decided to keep structural changes to the minimum, recycle most of the major equipment, and stay on course with the existing fire escape strategy. Our proposed design will have to work around these restrictions and improvise.





From a holistic approach towards the program, architectural design, and space planning, we arrived at the Design Concept – METAMORPHOSIS, a complete transformation that signals the rebirth of the development and rejuvenation of the community. It transforms the current big boxes into a series of fun and meaningful spaces, a joyful shopping destination, and an iconic landmark of the community.



立面焕新 Façade Renewal

一、缤纷幕墙, 一个洁白又色彩斑斓的蝴蝶
Colorful screen, The wings of a butterfly


The new façade has to leave a strong impression to the city and its people. With the parametric design tools, we drape over the existing massive boxes with more than 30,000 pieces of white aluminum panels with 5 different colored LED perforations, forming undulating waves that mimic the wings of a butterfly. At night time, the LEDs are programmed to lit up an impressive show, transforming and animating the urban streetscape.


▼夜景下外立面营造色彩丰富的效果 At night, the facade creates a rich color effect.

▼白色基调外立面点缀渐变的彩色灯箱 The white tone facade is embellished with gradual color light boxes.


Grand Gateway with Mega LED, The Head of a Butterfly



Along the 200m west main façade facing the urban plaza, we broke the plane and inserted a grand gateway into the building. The gateway is a set of symmetrical curved structure symbolizes the head of a butterfly made of 280 pieces of faceted glazing panels with LED media mesh. This feature creates a strong focal point and draws attention from near and far, and complements the transition between indoor and outdoor space. The new gateway design breaths new energetic vibes to the city, especially at night when the LED media mesh is lit up.


▼主入口可展示丰富的LED多媒体内容,向城市和市民展示不同的主题 The main entrance displays a wealth of LED multimedia content, presenting different themes to the city and its citizens.


Entrances and Plazas, Permeable and welcoming


There are two secondary entrances each allocated at the northwest and southwest corners. The entrances are designed with sunken plazas to ease the natural slope of the site, and connect people at both the ground and basement levels. The sunken plazas not only bring values to the basement corner retail with more natural lights and visibility from the street level, but also provide social interactive venues which are articulated with four seasons landscape pods, water features and alfresco.


▼西南下沉广场 Southwest Sunken Plaza.


▼西北下沉广场 Northwest Sunken Plaza.


空间内核重组 Spatial Reorganization


Ironically a successful shopping mall nowadays isn’t built simply on the idea of shopping, but more on an integrated consumer experience. Working hand in hand with the leasing team, we came up with the idea of ‘an excursion in wonderland’ where we emphasized on creating memorable scenes inspired by a mix of indigenous, artistic and cultural, natural and high-tech elements at every important intersections to heighten the sense of explorations and the joy of discoveries.





In the efforts of converting a rigid wholesale box to a more sensible shopping mall layout with minimum impact on the existing structure, we kept the existing cruciform promenade and improved its circulation by linking to all the 14 atrium spaces and 7 entrances with a new loop. The combination of the cross and loop circulation avoids dead ends and enable people to travel easily from one point to another in a clear and simple manner.



Design Tone & Language


The overall interior space uses light warm oak and white as the basic color scheme, while the floor and ceiling design utilizes curvilinear profiles in order to brighten up and soften the rigidness of the space. This also serves as a continuous backdrop for a mix of retail themes and programs.



Grand Butterfly Boulevard


Connecting the gateway at the west, the central plaza and the main elevator lobby at the east is the Grand Butterfly Boulevard.An elaborated and colorful ribbons of butterflies pieced together by mosaic tiles, paving a meandering pathway and leading up to the Grand Butterfly Plaza with a gigantic butterfly imprint that could be viewed in 360 degrees around the atrium. The Grand Butterfly Boulevard distinguishes itself and set the tone for an exciting and lively experience inside the mall.



Grand Butterfly Plaza


The Grand Butterfly Plaza is the main attraction of the mall. It is an impressive 1,900sm of atrium space capped with a domed skylight structure. It is an ideal space large enough to house any promotional or social events with an unobstructed 360-degree view from all floors above. We incorporated a large vertical LED screen in the plaza and applied rings of LED panels around the balustrade in order to program a borderless sound and visual effect, an absolute immersive experience.


▼沉浸式主中庭 Immersive main atrium.


Eight Uniquely Themed Atriums


A total of 8 uniquely themed atriums are purposefully planned across the mall. Besides the Grand Butterfly Boulevard and Plaza, there are also the Canton Avenue which is a clash of trend and culture, the Butterfly Wonderland which engages lifestyle techs and sports, the Floral Fantasy World that inspires imaginations and creativities, the Garden of Oz which is filled with trendy games and entertainments, and last but not least, the Cascading Mountains and the Streaming Waterfalls. It is a blend of impressions of art, culture, nature and technology working together to entice the five senses.


▼蝶趣园中庭 The Butterfly Wonderland Atrium.

▼层叠云山中庭 The Cascading Mountains Atrium.

▼起伏的曲线铝板透着层山的图案 The undulating curved aluminum plate shows the pattern of layered mountain.

▼珠水映月中庭把水景带进主中庭 Streaming Waterfalls brings the water feature into the main atrium.

▼珠水映月中庭 The Streaming Waterfalls Atrium.


Three Main Streetscapes


We also branch off from the main themes to create several streetscapes that enhance certain retail programs. They are the Canton Food Court with a parade of good eats, Kids World with fun interactive play yards, and Techno Sport with energized neon runways. These are elements of surprise and instagrammable moments which intensify the overall retail experience.


▼童梦天地 Kids World.

▼美食广场 Canton Food Court.

▼运动酷乐 Techno Sport.


Intimate Design Details


The careful and intimate design details are reflected in all the auxiliary space as well. The overall consideration for human scale and comfort extends throughout the malls even in the restrooms, elevator lobbies and information desk.


▼服务台位于东中庭,便于为顾客提供服务 The service desk is located in the east atrium for the convenience of providing service to customers.

▼停车库电梯厅利用亮眼的色彩、灯光和标识,顾客可方便快捷找到 With bright colors, lights and signs, customers can easily find the elevator hall in the parking garage

▼不同场景的卫生间和母婴室提供多元、人性化的服务 Different scenes of the toilet and the mother and baby room to provide diversified, humanized services.


改造难点 Design Challenges


The YUE City makeover was a demanding process of 36 of structural columns uprooted and 1,196 reinforced, 4,340 of structural beam reinforced, 17,000sm of concrete slabs razed, 110 tons of structural steel trusses removed, and many more staggering numbers and efforts in the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic. We as the lead designer were responsive both on paper and on site to resolve issues that arise during the design and construction stage.


▼改造记录 Renovation record.





Any form of public space is an important part, a vessel of life and activities of an urban community. Major changes in social and economic aspects usually result in decay of the public spaces particularly retail. As a retail designer, we understood that the key purpose of retail space regeneration is not only to restore its economic and culture viabilities but also to encourage survival. This project has faced the same decay and through a 600-days of vigorous transformation, YUE City re-emerge as a vibrant development, with a sense of identity in the new horizon.


▼悦汇城开业后吸引大量市民到访 After its opening, Yue City attracted a large number of visitors.




项目面积:280,000 平方米
主创设计师:Josh Goh

Project Name: Yue City
Project Location: No. 150, Xiwan Road, Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province
Project Type: Shopping Mall
Project Area: 280,000 Square Meters
Completion Time: September 26th, 2020
Design Scope: Architecture, Façade, Interior Retrofit
Design Service: Lead Architect.Concept to Design Development, Construction Documents Review, Construction Site Administration
Design Firm: Atelier DYML
Creative Lead: Josh Goh
Design Team: Liang Hua (Architecture Design Manager), Mingzhi He (Interior Design Manager), Meng Lu (Facade Design Manager), Demu Ao, Yun Xu, Dingwen Zhang, Lijiao Mu, Chang Hong, Junxi Tao,Qihao Zhong, Zhihuang Miu, Hongyu Tan, Junluo Chen
Photographers: Jianquan Wu, Mingzhi He
Client: Yuexiu Property
Architecture Design Institute: Guangzhou City Construction & Development Design Institute Co., Ltd.
Landscape Design: Guangzhou City Construction & Development Design Institute Co., Ltd.
Lighting Design: RDesign International Lighting
Curtain Wall Detail Development: Shenzhen C.S.C Decoration Design Engineering Co. Ltd.
Construction Design: China Construction Fifth Engineering Bureau Ltd.
Structural Consultant: Guangzhou Hanhua Architects+Engineers Co. Ltd.


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