Nanjing Road mixed use area
by RTA-Office


Pint glasses of beer provided the inspiration for this cluster of tower blocks underway in Qingdao, China, by architects RTA-Office.

Nanjing Road mixed use area by RTA-Office

Set for completion in 2014, the mixed-use complex will occupy an entire city block and will provide offices, apartments and leisure facilities, including a hotel, a shopping centre, restaurants and a sports centre.

Nanjing Road mixed use area by RTA-Office

The city of Qingdao is also home to the Tsingtao brewery, one of China's largest lager manufacturers and the producer of the popular Tsingtao beer. RTA-Office chose to make reference to this by incorporating the shape and colour of a glass of beer within each structure.

Nanjing Road mixed use area by RTA-Office

"We have thoroughly studied the environment and character of the city to propose a project that the city can feel is its own project and that has a unique character," said the architects. "This strong reference suggested to us both the shape of the project and the colours."

Nanjing Road mixed use area by RTA-Office

The proposals are for a series of glazed towers, each with different heights and varying golden tones.

Nanjing Road mixed use area by RTA-Office

"We paid special attention to the configuration of the volumes," added the architects. "We set them very carefully and in a harmonious way. We also paid attention to the colour-scheme; the result gives a touch of elegance and warmth to the complex."

Nanjing Road mixed use area by RTA-Office

Leisure facilities will be located at ground level where possible and will spill out onto a series of new streets and plazas.

Nanjing Road mixed use area by RTA-Office

Lead by architect Santiago Parramón, Spanish firm RTA-Office has studios in Barcelona, Shanghai and Istanbul. Past projects include the basalt-clad House C in Barcelona.

Nanjing Road mixed use area by RTA-Office

Other unusual proposals we've featured from China include a pair of spiralling buildings inspired by an ancient emblem and a skyscraper inspired by spacecraft.

Nanjing Road mixed use area by RTA-Office

See more architecture in China »

  • jatchua

    China really doesn’t comprehend concept yet do they? I know that is a pretty broad prejudice but nearly every project I see featured is so weakly connected to the inspiration. No strength or sign of development.

    • Hayden

      It is a broad prejudice. Perhaps you mean to say: western architects simply don’t understand China yet. Superior to half the commercial rubbish I see in London everyday.

      • Archandy

        I agree that statement is a broad prejudice, but so is your replying comment. What do western architects not understand about this scheme, specifically? If you can explain how a loose idea to use pints of beer grouped together on a table is a good enough reason to drive the form and function of a massive project affecting thousands of peoples lives and the environment, then I’d love to understand. I really would.

        • Hayden

          I’ll take a wild guess and assume you’ve never actually been to China.

          • Trujillo

            You won’t need to assume anything now: I’ve lived and worked for three years in China and I still keep collaborating in Shanghai while based in Europe, and no, they don’t get anything at all. Pints of beer on a table, for god’s sake. And then, more than this project, what’s really is shocking is Dezeen posting this.

          • Archandy

            I have actually, but what has that got to do with the discussion? Would that make me see that this is a good project? No. I am not attacking Chinese architecture – it is my opinion that this specific scheme is based on an embarrassing idea with no relevence in architecture.

  • philipp

    What a tragic inspiration for a truly mundane scheme. Why do buildings like this even get press attention?

  • archiNØRD

    I need a pint! ;)

  • Claire

    What is wrong with Dezeen recently? This is not a Dezeen article.

  • martin

    Seems like one of these “you have to come up with the concept and design and everything else by yesterday” type of projects. Happens often in China.

  • ArchiChina

    Very original and elegant project!

  • Gdane

    Freaking ridiculous – this project will be the work/living space of thousands of people and it all boils down to a concept of pints.

  • Archandy

    This is so stupid. Is this what architecture has become? Oh look, I see something right in front of me, lets copy it, make it x 100 and call that a concept.

    This “idea” would get slammed in a crit. A first year student would be ashamed of this yet someone is actually getting paid for this? Wow.

    • ArchiChina

      The really important thing is the result. Nobody would have said that these are beers if the image of the beers had not been published and explained in the text.

      • Trujillo

        The result itself is already quite mediocre. No, actually, it’s quite obscene. But anyway, why are they showing this “concept” in a diagram? Well, the thing that we can understand is that the designers and promoters thought it was really important as a concept, so we can therefore judge the intellectual approach (the lack of it).

      • darth05

        I’d hate to say this, but many projects in China are copies of other projects from someone else’s design. This is the very reason why most designers are asked to copy others’ designs. “The really important thing is the end result” – it doesn’t matter if the design is copied as long it looks good. This is so wrong.

        In the the context of “pints of beer as their concept”, this is very typical in China. Most clients here cannot relate to concepts that are quite deep. They want something quite simple to comprehend. It really ends up with the decision of the clients you present to.

        I’ve been working in China for quite some time and, believe me, it’s really frustrating to see really cool and deep concepts rejected just because the clients can’t relate to them. It’s not because they are stupid or something, but it is because they cannot relate to it. This is very important to Chinese clients. They want something that they can relate to and need to feel something about your concept. This may not be acceptable to the western world or other parts of the world, but to them it’s good enough. It might take time before Chinese clients can accept concepts at this type of level. I’m sure there are “enlightened ones” already, but not that many.

  • swikiel

    The connection between inspiration and concept seems so weak! Aside from taking a bunch of pints as an inspiration (the city’s connection to the Tsingtao brewery somehow explains it) it is sad that the concept just draws the connection on a basic visual level: great, I will have a bunch of buildings looking like pints and I will give them the colour of beer.

    Why isn’t it better thought through? I feel that this project treats the public as a bunch of idiots. The visual connection between a pint and a building is somewhat insulting.

    Why don’t they make a connection based on the location of the complex and the proximity to the brewery and maybe try to design something more sustainable, with slightly more sense?

  • Allan

    I’m ashamed to see beer pints on an architectural project, yet entertained.

  • paolo.a

    Very interesting project! Don’t look at the concept – the result is very interesting in my opinion.

  • gus

    This is spectacularly stupid, but if you are going to blame anyone, blame the developer too, not just the architect. The architect was most likely given three days to come up with a design and two of those days would have been spent whipping the boy from the rendering company, to make him work faster.

    • sor perdida

      In which case, the architect shouldn’t have published it.

  • sor perdida

    Did anybody notice they ripped off Kengo Kuma’s Uniqlo building in Sanlitun, Beijing This whole project copies the early Sanlitun development, at a grander scale. What sort of architects are these?

    • G.L

      It’s basically the same!

  • James Longfield

    Friday afternoon design session down the pub finally became profitable.

  • Trujillo

    Please, Dezeen, please, spare us all this.