Located in one of China’s oldest cities, Maike Metals Group’s sprawling Midwest Inland Port Financial Town is not quite what you’d expect from one of the largest non-ferrous metal suppliers and traders in the country. Open, luminous and nearly all-white, the 362,000-square-metre “town” was conceived by Shenzhen’s Hallucinate Design Office and is the company’s first bulk commodity trading centre in western China.
The metal trading platform functions as a hub for integrated transportation, warehousing freight forwarding and information services; with such an industrial purpose, the interior is surprisingly serene. The Shenzhen-based firm’s major move is in the lobby, where a series of curved walls were clad in custom-made extruded aluminum grids. Embedded behind the metal fins are LED electronic display units that project data figures as integrated graphic elements.
These units have been sealed with a resin coating that lets the digital readouts shine through while reducing their glare, softening the effect. (The aluminum structures also provide a sound absorbing quality to the bustling building.) The light play continues via a cluster of three black metal towers of differing heights that cast light up towards the glass geodesic dome ceiling, which reflects it back.
Walls of white Corian rise up and lead in different directions, but their universal cladding works together to let them read as a single surface, opening sight lines from floor to ceiling as the firm intended. Strips of horizontal lighting illuminate the walls, and contribute to carrying the eye in a singular direction.
Flooring materials were kept to a minimal, with black artificial stone adding contrast to the lobby, and hardwood and charcoal grey carpeting outfitting the trading centre, various meeting rooms, offices and hallways.