Ateliers Jean Nouvel created a shortcut through the Huangpu district of Shanghai, inserting a covered shopping street in a mixed-use building and animating the office facades with rows of potted plants.


The artery refers to traditional Chinese shopping streets and is animated by pedestrian bridges.

The studio, led by architect Jean Nouvel, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, designed the Henderson CIFI Tiandi building for real estate development and investment company CIFI Holdings.

A green atrium extends between the building

The building is located on Jian Guo Dong Road, in an area that was part of the Chinese city’s French concession in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The area covered by the former French concession retains a distinctive character due to its variety of architectural styles and streets lined with London plane trees.

Henderson CIFI Tiandi covered walkway
A covered street cuts the building in half and connects two streets

Nouvel designed a building that spans the length of a block and creates a covered road connecting two main roads at each end.

“Between Ma Dang and Dan Shui streets, it was tempting to create a shortcut that would be an urban and commercial passage,” Nouvel said.

“A sequence evoking vanished environments that have been completely redesigned and are new and modern; a high, narrow street that is covered and protected.”

Shanghai office building
Offices occupy the upper floors of the Henderson CIFI Tiandi

The building is arranged in two parts on either side of the central passage. Voids over the entire height in the middle of the two volumes serve to break up the overall mass and form a perpendicular path through the building.

The complex contains 25,000 square meters of office space located above 15,000 square meters of commercial units on the ground floor and basement.

The exterior elevations are finished in a gray-beige hue that blends into the surrounding streetscape. Tapered planters integrated into the facades at each level contain vegetation that refers to the plane trees lining the neighboring streets.

From the streets outside, the spaces between the structures offer a glimpse of the bright red internal facades that draw people to the public walkway.

The Henderson CIFI Tiandi building has a bright red finish
Planters have been installed on the facade

The central atrium is lined with red versions of the terracotta jars filled with greenery and colorful flowers. Nouvel described the inner street as “the street with 1,000 red pots.”

“The complementarity between the shops opposite, the activities of the offices and the restaurants under the roofs create a familiar and naturally lively street”, Nouvel added, “fixing pleasant walks as the target and offering a new inviting route. between Ma Dang and Dan Shui Streets. “

It has a grid design
Bridges connect different spaces

A glass roof covers the passageway and the interior windows facing the street are covered with slatted blinds that allow the levels of light and privacy to be adjusted.

Shades, planters, and other surfaces are painted in various shades of brown, amber, orange, and red that add subtle variation to interior elevations.

Small bridges and overhead walkways connect the upper floors at different points. The internal and external balconies provide relaxation areas which help to activate and further enliven the building on all levels.

Henderson CIFI Tiandi photographed from above
The development is in the Huangpu district of Shanghai

In addition to its main office in Paris, Ateliers Jean Nouvel has an office in Shanghai which was created in 2019 to manage projects in the region.

The company won a competition held in 2013 to design the National Art Museum of China in Beijing and also designed a huge art complex located in a forest in Qingdao.

The photography is by Studio 10.


Project credits:

Reference architect: Tianhua Group
Structural engineer: Tianhua Xuzhoutongyu steel structure
Landscaper: WAA
Architecture: Jean Nouvel Workshop
Cost advisor: CIFI Group Co. Ltd
Structural designers: P&T Shanghai
Facade design: RFR
Façade work: Shanghai Chengxuan Architecture Engineering
Mechanical service engineer: P&T Shanghai, Tianhua
Landscape collaborator: Aspect
Landscaping : Beudoux
Lighting design: Herve Descottes



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