In China’s Xinxiang Henan province, nine “frosted” glass cubes stack atop one another to form the first building in the forthcoming Pingyuan cultural district and tourism center—and the first built work by two young Paris-based firms in partnership, Zone of Utopia + Mathieu Forest Architecte. The development will be home to shopping centers, residential towers, a man-made lake, and one of China’s largest indoor ski slopes—all with the theme of winter sports, inspired by this month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, 400 miles away. At 174 feet tall, the 78,000-square-foot, steel-framed structure is animated by its double-glass facades, which have varying degrees of opacity and are made up of 8-by-8-foot panels of glazing suspended from stainless-steel cables. The exteriors—emblazoned with an ink-printed snowflake motif—communicate with the water that surrounds the building in its three states (solid, liquid, vapor, depending on the temperature), explains architect Qiang Zou, “to symbolize the spirit of the site.” The building will serve as “a living room for the neighborhood,” adds his partner, Mathieu Forest, and “a model for the whole district.” Called Ice Cubes, the project will include restaurants, bars, exhibition spaces, childcare and reception centers, a terrace, and sky lounge. The structure is also a sculptural artwork that is transformed by light, weather, and perspective. “It’s like a painting,” says Forest. “Each time you see it, you discover something new.”
Photos © ArchExist, click to enlarge.
The lighting design by PROL accentuates the icy effects of the architecture. Photos © TOPIA Commercial Photography