Da Yu Wan Retail — Rebuilding Community after Covid

September 29th, 2020
West Kunshan, China

Thanks to major public health efforts, China has safely reopened and with lockdown eased, visitors have been attracted to outdoor destinations and retail. Guests are able to gather safely, enjoying fresh air, performances and socializing. Da Yu Wan Retail has recovered quickly and leveraged its popularity to promote local businesses. Celebrating their Second Anniversary, Da Yu Wan hosted a Night Market with performances, water displays and kiosks for small shops.

At the center of newly developed Kunshan West, Da Yu Wan Retail seamlessly integrates lakeside public space with an outdoor mall. Kunshan West is growing rapidly due to a concentration of tech industry and universities, it also sits between Suzhou and Shanghai allowing an easy commute to either city. The site-defining Central Lake is ringed by Kunshan’s Campus Innovation Corridor, Forest Living Corridor, and Duke Avenue’s blue infrastructure. This density of developing green infrastructure positions Da Yu Wan to attract visitors from near and far.

Residents have been eager to get back to normal life, fortunately outdoor retail and parks provide opportunities for gatherings of many sizes. Da Yu Wan Retail contains a multitude of flexible spaces: a waterfront plaza and lawn hosts large events; intersections welcome small-scale performances; and walkways comfortably accommodate vendor kiosks.

The large event plaza has a church building as its backdrop, where stages and equipment can be placed with space for an audience. Additionally a lawn amphitheater between the lake and church creates a seating area for guests to listen to musical performances.

Wide walkways leave plenty of space for vendors, where kiosks are able to transform the feeling from wide open to intimate and cozy spaces. This flexibility allows the mall to support local businesses in addition to traditional retail.

At walkway intersections, paving and water features mark visitors' location in the mall. During the night market, these intersections are repurposed to host small-scale musical performances. Young musicians and school bands had the opportunity to showcase their talent and practice performing for audiences.

By providing a wide variety of flexible spaces, Da Yu Wan Retail is able to be more than a mall, it can act as a scaffolding for the community. As many struggle through economic difficulties, this space is able to provide amenities for small local businesses to showcase their wares and recover their sales. Emerging from quarantine, people are eager to reconnect and engage in communal experiences. With events like Da Yu Wan’s Night Market, West Kunshan is rebuilding and reconnecting.

PLAT Studio has proven success creating destination retail experiences. By designing landscape infrastructure that is adaptable to a variety of circumstances, commercial spaces can transcend their intended use and serve a community’s needs for social interaction and local investment.

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