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Emporia, designed by Wingårdhs, is a project that refreshingly breaks conventions and challenges preconceptions. It is an extremely large mixed-use urban planning project, accommodating various types of housing, retail, and public space.

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Courtesy of  Wingårdhs

As the name suggests, Emporia provides space for social exchange, which is why Wingårdhs moved the retail from their conventional street-front to the heart of the building, inviting people in. That way, visitors would travel through the building, experiencing the architecture, as opposed to interacting with simply a storefront. In the words of the architect: ‘The idea of lining the streets with mixed-used buildings demanded a strong form that could attract visitors from Station Square to come in and shop.’ The building’s bold form makes a statement.  A coherent envelope houses all these different activities with the use of a clear rectangular façade that has been punctured, a motion meant to draw people in.

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 Courtesy of  Wingårdhs

Unconventionality seems to be a theme with Emporia with its strong form, bold colors, and custom pieces. In a project this large, an architect reaches a fork in the road, either to design a building that will accommodate external inclusions or design down to the stitching, or in Emporia’s case ‘down to the leather-wrapped handrails and the color of the stitching on the built-in seating.’ Again, due to the scale, custom designs for fixtures, furnishings, signage, ceilings, and floors are made possible.

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Courtesy of  Wingårdhs

 The project’s immensity calls for the structures to be built in phases. Atop this bold volume, Wingårdhs designed a rooftop park, a piece of ‘cultivated nature.’ Although that is there now, the rooftop is meant to incorporate outdoor dining and a spa facility in future phases. Wingårdhs compare shopping centers to amusement parks, clearly shown in their design: providing entertainment that occasionally changes to provide new attractions.

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Courtesy of  Wingårdhs

Emporia is a building made for our time. We are at a point where technological advances have freed us from some conventions, and Wingårdhs have made apt use of that, pushing the boundaries of structure and organization. We are also at a time when we can design efficiently and cohesively, and that is evident in Wingårdhs’ attention to detail.

By Aiysha Alsane

Courtesy of  Wingårdhs

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