Toronto-based studio UUfie has designed a 3D glass façade, which evokes an iceberg floating freely in the ocean, for the Ports 1961 Flagship Store in Shanghai, China.  The facade demonstrates the possibilities of design experimentation, showing the transformation of form, material and technology, while still bringing aspect of both traditional and contemporary interpretations. The structural grandeur of the building attracts attention while its ambivalent nature is uniquely changing with its surroundings.


The façade is composed of two types of glass blocks, a standard 300mm x 300mm glass block and a custom 300mm x 300mm x 300mm corner glass block. Unlike most glass block masonry construction, it is not limited to one vertical plane. The combinations of the two types of glass block create a sculpted three-dimensional façade exhibiting cantilevered structures.


By incorporating innovative structural engineering and inventing a new joining system in the block itself, an elaborate ornamental stepping canopy is achieved that naturally angles to the flow of pedestrian and allows for four bow windows to be visible from all directions.


The usage of satin glass block and shot blasted stainless steel material is in great contrast to the chaotic city. During the day, it mutes the surroundings, while subtly reflecting the sunlight. In the evening, the view is icy and crisp, and the surface illuminates with embedded LED lights integrated into the joints of the masonry. The differing geometries and changing perspectives of the facade expresses the transformative nature of the city and the people of Shanghai.

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all images © Su Shengliang