a New Shopping District is taking shape in Xi’an, china


Heatherwick Studio has announced its latest endeavor in China with a new shopping district planned to transform the city of Xi’an. The proposal will be developed in collaboration with CR Land, and has been designed with the goal of challenging ‘the emotional and aesthetic deprivation of online shopping.’ What’s more, the architecture will take inspiration from the city’s rich heritage of ceramics and ceramicists, which will be shown through its expressive and detailed material palette. With these goals, the project will introduce a walkable neighborhood focused on human interactions and evocative of the ancient city’s cultural heritage of craft.

heatherwick studio xi'an china
the skyline is designed to echo the roofs of Chinese temples | visualization © Mir



fostering human interaction through urban design


Spanning 115,000 square meters, Heatherwick Studio’s proposal for Xi’an, China will introduce offices, apartments, a hotel, and green spaces — including a rooftop garden, sunken terrace, and communal gardens. With this multifunctional approach, the architects hope to provide visitors with not just a shopping destination but a walkable space for exploration, relaxation, and social interaction, all while honoring the city’s legacy of craftsmanship and creativity.

Mat Cash, group leader and partner at Heatherwick Studio comments:This new district in Xi’an explores how we can create variety and a sense of discovery and delight within a new-large scale urban development. Using natural materials, stepped terraces and an enveloping landscape we can create a city within a city merging retail, residential, office, cultural and leisure uses into one distinct place.’

heatherwick studio xi'an china
the district will be shaped by stepping terraces and an evolving landscape | visualization © Devisual



heatherwick studio designs at all scales


At a city-scale, Heatherwick Studio’s planned district will introduce a landscaped expanse with a skyline echoing of the roofs of Chinese temples in Xi’an. At street level, the interlocking frames and landscape terraces will provide diverse vantage points of the central plaza and the surrounding city. At door-level, the design promises a sensorial experience through the innovative use of materials and the integration of nature. This approach — designing from the scale of the city, street, and door — aligns with Thomas Heatherwick’s human-centric design philosophy as illustrated in his newly published book ‘Humanize.’

heatherwick studio's new walkable district will echo the ceramic heritage of xi'an, chinathe shopping district will be organized around a central plaza | construction site, image © CR Land



In an homage to Xi’an’s historical connection to ceramics, the entire district will be clad with different patterns of ceramic inspired by the Terracotta Army — which the design team notes as being among the most iconic examples of clay sculpture in the world — thus, showcasing the versatility of the material. Collaborating closely with local craftspeople, the architects are creating original ceramic patterns, infusing the exterior of the buildings with a unique visual identity that adds detail and interest even at the smallest scale of the project. Currently under construction, the shopping district is slated to open its doors to the public in 2024.

heatherwick studio's new walkable district will echo the ceramic heritage of xi'an, china
the entire district will be clad with ceramic patterning | ceramic detail, image © Luis Sacristan Murga



project info:


project title: Xi’an CCBD

architecture: Heatherwick Studio | @officialheatherwickstudio

location: Xi’an, China

developer: CR Land

status: under construction

completion: expected 2024

visualizations: © Devisual, Mir | @mir.no