Sybarite Architects Skp Department Store Xian Render North West Exterior Aerial

SKP Xi'an

Positioned centrally in China’s former capital and the country’s oldest city, the 2.5 million sq ft landmark store is more than three times the size of Harrods and sits sensitively within its surroundings despite its scale. It has been designed to provide a holistically branded environment tailored for SKP and its customers to create an unrivaled experience and an intimacy despite the scale of the building.

The location was incredibly significant to the overall approach to the design given its proximity to both the UNESCO World Heritage tentatively listed City Wall’s South Gate as well as the region’s parliament building. Sybarite designed it in such a way that it sits neatly in its environment but up close the façade is layered with an intricate honeycomb pattern of brushed bronze brass providing interest through the detailing, and subtly introducing the SKP brand, taking inspiration from Moorish architecture such as Alhambra Palace where it is only until you’re up close’ that you can enjoy the intricately patterned exterior. 

You want visitors to know exactly where they are, without having to explicitly remind them,” says Torquil McIntosh, co-founder of Sybarite with Simon Mitchell. So we took this curve and made it a motif everywhere from the lift buttons to the concessions; we even designed it to obscure the vents built into the 

pavements outside. It’s a subliminal cue which artfully reminds visitors that they are experiencing SKP, a retail brand that is ambitiously positioning itself as the top department store in the world.”

The 20 storey retail store houses more than 1,000 global brands including Gucci, Prada, Dior, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton as well as a carefully curated selection of domestic brands such as Xuzhi, Huishan Zhang and Quihao. The cultural attractions and amenities include multi-storey event spaces, boutique cinemas, a wide choice of restaurants and cafes as well as enclosed garden terraces designed in collaboration with industrial designers Arup. Sybarite has also designed the second RENDEZ-VOUS lifestyle concept store within SKP, following the success of RENDEZ-VOUS in SKP Beijing. The concept includes a number of carefully curated operators including TWG tea room, a wine bar and cellar, an artisanal cheese room with cheese-making facilities and a restaurant area and art gallery as well as a book shop which acts as the spine of the store, connecting all aspects of the creative and cultural lifestyle space.

In 2016, Sybarite was awarded a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation & Export’, largely due to the practice’s work in China with SKP.