More magic! Retail centers in Shanghai go way beyond shopping

Li Qian Yang Jian Cao Qian
Famous as a world-class consumption center, Shanghai is also a pioneer in the innovation of designs and services for shopping.
Li Qian Yang Jian Cao Qian

Famous as a world-class consumption center, Shanghai is also a pioneer in the innovation of designs and services for shopping. In today's world, the experience of consumption has evolved into a journey of fun seeking, and shopping centers have been turned into laboratories of how to create happy surprises.

They are no longer stores only, but with special offerings such as mammoth space for multiple functions, artistic architecture and even exclusive styles for a selected group of people.

Especially in 2021, Shanghai has seen a wave of new commercial landmarks unveiled for consumers with eye-popping popularity, contributing to Shanghai's goal of achieving 1.8 trillion yuan (US$283 billion) in retail sales of consumer goods each year by 2023.

Let's have a look at these fashionable shopping centers dotted around the city whose impact has gone beyond shopping.

Artistic: Tian An 1000 Trees

The iconic "Tian An 1000 Trees" project has been attracting wide public attention due to its unconventional appearance.

There will be up to 1,000 pillars with a tree on top of each, giving the structure a hill-like appearance. It is thus dubbed Shanghai's "Hanging Gardens of Babylon."

The initial phase of the project opened on December 22 with a grand lighting ceremony. All the hanging trees were illuminated, creating a fantasyland along Suzhou Creek.

The structure along Moganshan and Changhua roads in Putuo District was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the British architect behind the United Kingdom Pavilion at World Expo Shanghai in 2010.

The inspiration for the design came from China's Yellow Mountain. Two phases of the project resemble two peaks, while the trees and plants make it look like mountain cliffs.

Artists have also been invited to exhibit their artworks or create paintings and art installations inside the mall. A number of art galleries will open in the complex to work in concert with the neighboring M50 art hub.

Construction has started on the second phase which will be a taller structure with hanging gardens along the creek. It will open as a boutique hotel and office building in two years' time.

The riverside region was the former site of China's earliest private flour factory – east Asia's largest and most modern plant of its kind when it opened in 1900.

Four buildings belonging to Fufeng Flour Factory, which became the Shanghai Flour Factory in the 1960s, have been preserved and incorporated in the new complex.

Address: 600 Moganshan Road, Putuo District

Mammoth: The Hall of the Sun

The Hall of the Sun, one of Shanghai's biggest commercial complexes, has opened near the North Bund in Hongkou District, enriching the prosperous commercial atmosphere of the waterfront.

The Shui On Land project is expected to become a landmark of the North Bund, an area designated as the city's future Central Activity Zone along the Huangpu River.

The project connects with the Hall of the Moon which is already open and in business at Ruihong Tiandi. The pair will become a new "urban life hotspot" covering a total of 250,000 square meters in the northern downtown area.

With the new project, the North Bund waterfront will become a business and commercial center on a par with shopping landmarks such as Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall and Huaihai Road.

The newly launched Hall of the Sun project mainly serves the large number of residents in Ruihong Xincheng community, one of the largest urban renewal projects within the city's Inner Ring Road. The space around the Hongzhen Old Street area, once the largest remaining shantytown in Shanghai, is now an upmarket community.

The complex features outdoor terraces covering some 4,000 square meters with multi-level greenery. Its dome covers 5,500 square meters in the shape of three lotus leaves and is the largest sky dome at any local shopping center.

More than 150 species of shrubs and trees cover the project indoors and outdoors, along with waterways, waterfalls and skywalks. New business models have been unveiled apart from shopping and dining.

Foodie Social, a food court blending Chinese and Western flavors, has attracted many local customers.

Address: 181 Ruihong Road, Hongkou District

Cute: Songjiang INCITY

Songjiang INCITY opened in November as a real-world Pokémon wonderland.

Quite literally a Pokémon-themed shopping mall, the game elements can be seen everywhere.

Waving hello, grinning adorably, a 10-meter-tall Pikachu greets guests atop the roof on the fourth floor. And Mew, a pink psychic-type Pokémon, floats in front of the gate with its long tail twirling around a pillar.

As you walk in, Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur and other Pokémon greet you with smiling faces as elevators ascend and descend.

On the center stage, a life-size claw machine allows guests to play claw and get Pokémon balls. There is also a Pokémon-themed bus taking guests to the world of Pokémon.

Pokémon is not the only highlight.

The mall also features a 6,500-square-meter park equipped with swings, trampolines, mazes and other interactive areas, as well as a 1,350-square-meter professional skateboard park.

More than 220 stores offer retail, dining and entertainment, including 15 making their debut on the Chinese mainland, such as DOOITT HOME.

Address: 1788 Guangfulin Road, Songjiang District

Sleepless: One East

Among an array of dazzling shopping malls opening this year, One East at the South Bund is dedicated to fueling the city's nightlife economy.

Unlike other malls, which usually close their doors around 10pm, One East extends its operating hours to 5am the next day, featuring mostly nightclubs – true to Shanghai's moniker as the city that never sleeps.

In the All Day Garden, there stands the first Chinese branch of the world's top hip-hop club 1 OAK, the first Shanghai location of China's well-established Music House, the first billiards-themed INARI CLUB in Shanghai, and a new rendition of China's top nightclub SPACE PLUS.

The All Day Garden is quite literally a garden that is open all day. The outdoor garden links the mall's daytime retail and nightlife entertainment area. Actually, the mall's tenants can choose to close doors at 10pm, or 2am and 5am the next day, to meet different demands, especially Generation Z's nightlife.

Address: 788 Zhongshan Road S1, Huangpu District

High-tech: AI Plaza

AI Plaza, the first major commercial project at the West Bund in Shanghai, opened to the public in December

The project is said to be China's first shopping mall surrounded by a large swathe of art galleries and museums.

It will mainly serve employees of high-tech companies, residents and visitors to the popular Huangpu River waterfront, making up for the long-term shortage of commercial facilities on the West Bund.

Covering 75,000 square meters, the eight-story plaza stands amid more than 20 art galleries, exhibition halls, theaters and libraries on the waterfront, which aims to become "Asia's largest art zone."

The project involves art and the latest smart applications developed by leading artificial intelligence companies based in the neighboring Shanghai AI Tower, a key site for the city's ambition to become a world "AI Highland."

The riverside area of Xuhui District, featuring an 11.4-kilometer shoreline along the Huangpu River, reflects the city's early industrial heritage, once encompassing a coal wharf, a cement factory, several giant fuel tanks and an aircraft hangar.

They have been converted into popular cultural venues such as the Long Museum, the West Bund Art Center and Tank Shanghai art park. Nearly 100 cultural events and exhibitions are organized there every year.

Address: 710 Yunjin Road, Xuhui District

Open: Taikoo Li Qiantan

Taikoo Li Qiantan, a 120,000-square-meter retail complex jointly developed by Swire Properties and Shanghai Lujiazui Group, was officially unveiled in September in Pudong's thriving Qiantan area.

Featuring some 250 premium shops across five floors with around 50 brands making their debut in Pudong, the first "Taikoo Li" project in Shanghai and the third in the country has adopted an open-plan architectural layout with staggered alleys, which is typical of the Taikoo Li brand.

Notably, a naturalistic design concept has been adopted by the wellness-themed project which offers a diverse mix of luxury and contemporary fashion labels, lifestyle brands and F&B outlets. More than 20 tenants are showcasing the "garden concepts" to echo the theme of Taikoo Li Qiantan: a temporary store by Louis Vuitton with a new design concept inspired by LV's Monogram 4 petal flower pattern; the first Oasi Zegna Garden on the Chinese mainland; Boucheron Jardin d'Hiver -- a first in Shanghai presented by Boucheron; Starbucks' Greener Store Lab, a global first; and AVENUE & SON's first store on the Chinese mainland with a skatepark.

Other special stores and highlights include Moncler's biggest House of Genius store on the Chinese mainland, CASA LOEWE Shanghai, the first MOViE MOViE cultural and lifestyle concept cinema on the Chinese mainland, Tsutaya Books' 3,000-square-meter flagship store on the rooftop, Japanese professional sports brand ASICS' first Running Station on the Chinese mainland, and the 450-meter Sky Loop surrounding the rooftop of the complex which is Shanghai's first AI digitalized running track within a mall.

Address: 500 Dongyu Road, Pudong New Area

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