Inside Beijing’s Coolest New Building: Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy Soho

Blair Pfander
Inside Beijing’s Coolest New Building: Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy Soho
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Since Beijing hosted the Olympic Games back in 2008, the city skyline has exploded with daring new buildings that push the edge of the architectural envelope, including a massive dome-shaped National Theater and Rem Koolhas’ peculiar CCTV headquarters, which seems to defy gravity with its chunky, building-block design.
Now, Zaha Hadid—the Iraqi-British architect who, in 2010, was dubbed the world’s “Most Influential Thinker” by Time magazine—has left her stamp on the city with the enormous Galaxy Soho—a curving, beehive-like entertainment center (okay, it’s a mall) that looks a bit like a floating space center.
Produced in collaboration with Beijing mega-developer, Soho China—which has backed a number of Beijing’s most high-profile building projects—The Galaxy weighs in at a whopping 1,082,677 square feet, and promises to become a major social center for the city, offering a smattering of retail shops and restaurants on its lower three levels.
Here, we take a closer look inside its glinting white halls.

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After seeing images of Zaha Hadid's latest project—the enormous, glowing Galaxy Soho in Beijing—we're certain that the visionary architect would be quite successful should she ever undertake designing space ships—so dramatic, high-tech and altogether futuristic is the new structure.

Photo: designboom.com/designboom.com

Designed to house upscale retail and restaurant business—essentially, to be a kind of super-mall—the Galaxy is composed of five separate concrete sections, each insulated by gleaming aluminum panels and punctuated by long panels of glass windows, creating a kind of "beehive" effect.

Photo: designboom.com/designboom.com

Each section is interconnected by long bridges designed with uneven, organic-looking curvature, making the structure look a bit like a living organism that could suddenly lurch to life. A few of the sections are domed—like this wing—while others are flattened at the top to create public outdoor space.

Photo: designboom.com/designboom.com

Hadid's aesthetic is distinctly modern, but the architect also looked to traditional Chinese architecture in conceiving of the Galaxy complex. Here, a look at one of the quiet park courtyards, which is designed to create an intimate, meditative mood amid Bejing's explosively busy downtown.

Photo: designboom.com/designboom.com

You'll have a hard time finding a single sharp angle or hard corner in the Galaxy. Soft, sweeping angles create a fluidity that invites visitors to explore deeper into the structure's winding hallways and wrapped stairwells. Here, an interior view of the first three levels, which will house the majority of retail and entertainment services.

Photo: designboom.com/designboom.com

The Galaxy's use of electric light—specifically in florescent panels accenting the underside of escalators and of the various levels—offers an interesting, spaceship-like contrast to the shafts of natural light that filter through the ceiling.

Photo: designboom.com/designboom.com

Furthering the enveloping, beehive-like feel of the space, the ceiling is shrouded in a woven, grid-like structure that allows natural light to come through while creating a sense of protection. Here, a look at the organic curves of the walls juxtaposed against the tight geometry of the grid.

Photo: designboom.com/designboom.com

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