9 inspiring mixed-use projects (3/3)

31. October 2022

City centres have to adapt to stay attractive. Mixed-use properties as well as convertible retail concepts are two possible ways of doing so. We are excited to share three more inspiring projects with you in our final instalment of this series.

Urban centres are changing. Residents, workers and visitors have different demands and needs than they did two or three decades ago, and that should be reflected in the way cities are planned and designed. Mixed-use properties and convertible retail spaces are possible responses to structural changes.

We went on a search for interesting projects and found so much inspiration all over the world that we ended up doing a three-part blog series on the subject. In June we published the first post of the mini-series, which featured the fashion and event store TGY, the converted railway depot LocHal and the enormous hybrid space of Markthal. The second post followed in August with the retail experience concept of Slowear18, the repurposed Kaufhaus Breuer department store and the cyclist hotspot Look Mum No Hands! Now we’re wrapping up the series with projects from South America, Europe and Asia.

SESC 24 de Maio, cultural and recreational centre, São Paulo

Urban living over cubicle life: in 2017, the former headquarters of the Mesbla department store in downtown São Paulo were transformed into the SESC 24 de Maio cultural centre, run by the private Brazilian non-profit organisation SESC, which operates recreational centres throughout the country. The building has strong ties to the city – just like the architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB Arquitetos.

Even though the corner building did not seem like an ideal place for a centre for cultural activities at first, it wasn’t simply torn down: it was rebuilt. Intermediate levels and gardens were added to break up the monotony of the structure. Today, the 13 storeys of SESC 24 de Maio, all accessible via a ramp system, house a library, a restaurant, various sport facilities, exhibition spaces, a theatre, studios for educational work, and even dental surgeries.

The most surprising feature is arguably the rooftop pool, which is nearly as large as the roof itself. And the two façades facing the street are encased in a glass skin which, acting like enormous mirrors of the neighbouring buildings, almost makes the building itself disappear.

Boekhandel Dominicanen, book shop, Maastricht

In 2008 The Guardian declared that the Dominicanen book shop was «made in heaven» and «could possibly be the most beautiful bookshop of all time». Which comes as no shock, given that it is located in a Dominican church that is over 700 years old.

Architects Evelyne Merkx and Patrice Girod of Amsterdam were in charge of the redesign of the book shop, which earned them the «Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize» in 2007.

The building, once part of a monastery consecrated in 1294, looks back on an eventful history. The church has now been exquisitely restored, with a massive three-storey central shelving island in its long, towering nave and a café in the choir, at the centre of which is a long table in the shape of a cross. A circular light fixture hangs above the table, casting a light that descends from the impressive vault like a modern-day aura.

Roppongi Hills, compact city district, Tokyo

And last, but not least: Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. This compact city district was designed by different architects and designers, and is well known as one of the best examples of a city within a city. It was and is an inspiration for mixed-use projects all over the world.

Constructed by building developer Minoru Mori in the heart of Tokyo’s Roppongi district, the 12-hectare building complex was opened in 2003 and provides a unique mix of interior and exterior areas for work, living, entertainment, recreation, learning and creativity. At its centre stands the 238-metre-tall Mori Tower with 380,000 square metres spread over 54 floors and one of the city’s most beautiful observation decks.

Every year, Roppongi Hills welcomes 40 million visitors to its 200+ shops, restaurants, 387-room Grand Hyatt Tokyo hotel, a contemporary at museum «Mori Art Museum», and other various facilities. 15,000 workers flock to the complex’s offices, and 2,000 people have their permanent residence in the district. A variety of green spaces, parking for nearly 2,800 vehicles, as well as a comprehensive infrastructure including its own district heating and cooling system make the Roppongi Hills development feel like a tiny autonomous city in downtown Tokyo.

(Header image article and image blog overview: SESC 24 de Maio in São Paulo © Nelson Kon)

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You want your building or shop to be fit for the future? Our interdisciplinary team will help you turn your brand into an experience. Get in touch with us by phone 41 41 972 56 60 or email info@dobas.ch.

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