MVRDV’s M-cube shopping center nears completion in beijing
all images courtesy of MVRDV




close to beijing’s forbidden city, exterior construction is nearing completion on a shopping center designed by dutch studio MVRDV. named the ‘M-Cube’, the project comprises a singular building that combines daytime retail with vibrant nightlife, acting as a major hub in the central district of chongwenmen. the plot sits near to historic hutongs and the temple of heaven — a medieval complex of religious buildings — as well as new commercial cores and the beijing railway station. the 33,000 square meter scheme has been developed in collaboration with KWG property, a guangzhou based real estate corporation.

the project comprises a singular building that combines day-time retail with vibrant night-life




faced with the challenge of maximizing the value of a relatively small plot, the basic volume was first extruded to its height limit and then cut away to establish visual and symbolic connections with various key parts of the city: the forbidden city, from the top levels; beijing railway station, from the middle terrace; and the main street and metro station at ground level. this results in an increased visible façade, largely used for advertisement space.

the plot sits near to new commercial cores as well as the beijing railway station




internally, the program is organized around a generous atrium. lower levels are primarily used for retail outlets, while the upper floors contain restaurants, bars, and an elevated lobby connected to the street through exterior escalators. visitors are also able to access the building via an underground walkway, which leads directly from the nearby metro station. the structure opens up to the street, activating the ground level and restoring a human scale to the existing urban fabric. at the uppermost storey, a rooftop garden and various terraces provide quiet refuge from the busy cityscape below.

diagrams illustrating the project’s development




to clad the building, the architects implemented a vibrant pearlescent façade that uses newly adapted materials. working with manufacturers NBK and HDTC, MVRDV developed hand-glazed tiles that radiate a whole spectrum of colors that fluctuate depending on when and where they are viewed. as a result, the elevation presented to the street reveals new patterns and colors as lighting conditions change. ‘the façade design balances between the desire of the client to create a striking building and the restrictive architectural conditions in that part of beijing, demanding greys and beiges,’ explains MVRDV co-founder jacob van rijs. ‘depending on the viewpoint, both parties can be satisfied as the façade material appears differently when looking at different angles, it varies from subtle grey to all colors of the rainbow.’


MVRDV won the competition to design the ‘chongwenmen M-Cube’ in february 2012, with construction of the entire complex due to be completed in the summer of 2016.

to clad the building, the architects implemented a pearlescent façade that uses newly adapted materials



project info:


location: beijing, china
architects: MVRDV
façade consultants: meinhardt façade technology
contractor: gartner permasteelisa group
tile manufacturers: NBK and HDTC
co-architect: xinjiyuan
client: KWG property