23-07-2019

Lafonce Maxone, a book-themed retail complex in China

Gonverge Interior Design,

Weiqi Jin,

Xi'an, China,

Free Time, Shopping Centers, Architecture and Culture,

Refurbishment,

A design strategy that brings together culture and retail for the Shopping Mall Lafonce Maxone in Xi’an, central China.



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Lafonce Maxone, a book-themed retail complex in China A design strategy that brings together culture and retail for the Shopping Mall Lafonce Maxone in Xi’an, central China. The project by the Chinese firm, Gonverge Interior Design has injected an unused construction with new life and turned it into a real local attraction.


With a population of more than 8 million in its greater metropolitan area, Xi’an is a large city and the capital of Shaanxi Province in central China. It is also one of China’s15 sub-provincial capitals. Once known as Chang’an (Eternal Peace), Xi’an was the terminus of the Silk Road and a melting pot of cultures and religions. It is also famous for its army of Terracotta Warriors Ming-era city walls remain intact, a large city and capital of Shaanxi Province in central China. 
Various initiatives have been rolled out in recent years to bring to a new cultural glory what for more than 1000 years was home to the ruling houses of many Chinese dynasties. One of these initiatives is the project to redevelop an architectural complex located in an industrial district in the northern suburbs of Xi’an and reinvent it is a Shopping Mall. The location is quite a distance from the major flow of users and consumers so the challenge for Gonverge Interior Design was to create a new attraction in addition to refurbishing the actual construction, which had laid dormant for more than 3 years. 
After carefully studying the complex, the designers opted to present the power and beauty of the original roughcast concrete architectural structure, with an area of 36,000 square metres. To do this, they came up with innovative interior design solutions and strived to bring in as much natural light as possible. The long, narrow south-north running existing volume has a large, four-storey central space flooded with daylight through an opening in the structure’s roof. So, Gonverge Interior Design decided to leverage the sensorial experience of this large space, and also focus on creating a spatial flow that would improve the circulation of users up and around the building.
But the real focal point of this project by the Chinese design team doesn’t just aim at architectural solutions. What they really wanted to do was to create a whole new narrative for a shopping mall that wasn’t exactly near the usual flow of users. To guarantee its commercial success, the revamp needed to turn this retail opportunity into something more than just the standard, classic shopping mall. So, the architects decided to go for a successful combination of culture and shopping, using the inspirational power of a bookstore. Bookstores have long since dropped their old style of only being a place for books, with many of them all over the world becoming a reference point for the community, combining their original purpose with other possibilities, as we have also seen in the pages of Floornature.
Gonverge Interior Design have taken this idea to the next level and embedded two steel and glass walls of the open hall space with books. These transparent walls also assure the spread of natural light and extend across the four floors of the mall. With a height of 18 m and a total length of 240 m, it is ranked as the biggest in China, and the hundreds of thousands of books in these book walls give the busy retail space all the atmosphere of a magnificent reading hall.
The Lafonce Maxone space combines art, culture and lifestyle to bring together literature and reading with the retail functions in an ambience suffused with rare beauty. The result for the suburbs of Xi’an is a place where books and the culture they represent form the perfect backdrop for the retailers in the mall who can take advantage of the typically warm and friendly feel of bookstores to turn a visit to the shopping mall into a rewarding experience in every sense.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Gonverge Interior Design
Location: Xi’an, China
Year: 2018
Images: Weiqi Jin

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