British Architects Open Shop Windows on Shanghai

This Friday (21 September) British Architects will be transforming Shanghai’s landmark shopping centre with a collection of stunning new architectural shop window installations for a range of top international fashion brands.

British Architects working in China are usually recognised for creating vast iconic structures like Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House and Foster+Partners’ Beijing Airport.

But the latest exhibition by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), British Council and Chinese property developer Shui On Land aims to show a different side to British architecture.

For the past three years, the RIBA’s Regent Street Windows project has been transforming some of Regent Street’s best-know retailers with stunning architect-designed windows displays. The project brings an artistic and cultural side to the retail experience.

The British Council are now helping to take the concept to China, where some of London’s most innovative architects have been commissioned to turn regular shop windows into an architectural extravaganza. The initiative forms part of the six-month long UK Now festival, the biggest ever showcase of British arts and creative industries to be held in China.

In total nine installations will be unveiled by RIBA President Angela Brady on 21 September in Shanghai Xintiandi.

Franc Franc, the Japanese home furnishing store, are having their Shanghai shop windows transformed by architects Dexter Moren Associates. The practice will create giant Mikado game-sticks framing the outside of the store.

Meanwhile Robin Lee Architecture will transform French fashion brand Agnes b.’s shop front by developing a brick-cityscape recalling the brand’s international roots.

Tamsie Thomson, Director of the RIBA’s London Region, said: 'It’s fantastic that the RIBA and British Council are able to unleash British architectural creativity on such a scale in a Chinese retail environment.'

'Not only is this cultural project helping the nine architecture practices gain brand awareness in China, we’re also raising the profile of British architecture and British design in general – making it easier for other practices to benefit in this rapidly-growing country. There’s huge potential here.'

Vicky Richardson, Director Architecture, Design, Fashion, at the British Council said:

'RIBA’s Regent Street windows project is a really imaginative way of getting the public excited about architecture. We’re delighted to be able to take the approach to China so that British architects have the challenge of working in the context of a fast-growing and changing city.'

The exhibition continues until 11 October 2012.

Other architects and retailers working on the Shanghai Shop Windows project include:

Haniiy, the South Korean-based lifestyle fashion store, will have their shop front wrapped in a weaver’s loom by Erect Architecture ltd.

Will Alsop’s new practice, All Design, will blur the boundaries between art, architecture and retail with a life size artwork of paint and moving parts for SMUDGE, the fashion concept by JJ Lin (a highly successful singer/composer, producer, and actor in Asia)

JNBY + Croquis, two Chinese fashion brands, are having their combined store transformed by Moxon Architects with a tubular landscape and a ‘flock’ of triangular panels which punch through the shop facade.

An interactive racetrack will be created by Aberrant architecture for the windows of MF Art+, the avant-garde concept store.

Studio Glowacka are transforming the windows of Nisiss, the high-end Chinese designer brand, with an intricate display structure from which products will be suspended.

Nicholas Kirk Architects will construct a tree canopy made from thousands of plastic cable ties for Stay Real, the Taiwanese clothing and accessories brand created by singer Ashin from rock band Mayday.

Finally, Studio Weave is working with Shui On Development Ltd, the owners of the Shanghai Xintiandi, to create a stunning pavilion with sweeping curtains of gold chains for the south block piazza of Shanghai Xintiand.


Notes to editors

  • For more information: Owen Wainhouse, Communications Manager, RIBA London
    Phone: +44 (0) 207 307 3659/ Mobile +44 (0) 7407 730 131 / Email:
  • High resolution concept images are available here:
  • The UK Now Festival is managed by the British Council in partnership with HSBC and Brunswick, and with financial support from them and from Burberry, Diageo, IELTS, IHG, Jaguar Land Rover, Norton Rose, Prudential, Standard Chartered and Swire. Between 1 April and 30 November this year, hundreds of performances, exhibitions, films, concerts, talks, workshops and masterclasses are taking place in 17 cities across China, with at least one event happening somewhere every day.
  • The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. We work in over 100 countries in the arts, education and English and in 2010/11 we engaged face to face with 30 million people and reached 578 million. We have 6,800 staff worldwide. Our total turnover in 2010/11 was £693 million, of which our grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was £190 million. The remainder was generated through trading activities such as English Language teaching. For every £1 of taxpayer money invested we earn £2.65 in additional income. In mainland China we have offices: in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou.
  • The Royal Institute of British Architects champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. We have some 42,000 members worldwide. More information at
  • The RIBA’s London Region aims to help its members win new business overseas. The region helps 20 smaller practices exhibit at MIPIM, Europe’s largest property investment trade show. In March RIBA London ran a trade mission with UKTI to Hong Kong and Shenzhen, helping nine smaller practices make new contacts and win new business in the region.
  • The following the success of the 2010 and 2011 Regent Street Windows projects, the RIBA’s London region started working with the British Council and Chinese developer – Shui On Land to export the Regent Street Windows concept to a Chinese audience, allowing architects to promote the best of British architecture, in an exciting and alternative way.
  • Visit the Xintiandi microsite here: