Renewal of the Imperial Trader’s Hotel

Typology: Shopping Mall, Co-Working, Hotel
Location: Guangzhou Avenue 293, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
Type: Architecture, Interior, Landscape
Status: Built

Façade Design Concept cooperation: realities:united, studio for art and architecture, Berlin
(Team: Jan Edler, Tim Edler, Christopher Gramer, Project Architect: Christopher Gramer)

Design starting date: October 2017
Construction starting date: May 2018
Construction finish date: January 2020

Building Area (m2): 33,578 m²
Landscape Area (m2): 4,819 m²

Photography: Arch-Exist


The predecessor of the renovated Guangzhou Imperial Traders Hotel is the Guangdong Foreign Traders Club, which was built in 1989 and was one of the first hotels specifically for foreign affairs in modern China. From Guangzhou Middle Avenue where the Hotel is located, one can hardly imagine that in the early 1990s, the nowaday central business district lined with skyscrapers was nothing but sprawling farmland, the Club and its adjacent Nanfang Daily Newspaper Headquarter were once the only high-rise buildings in the area. With the rapid development of this area from the beginning of the 21st century, the Foreign Traders Club was once one of the most sought-after hotels in the city thanks to its convenient location. However, as the role of serving the needs of “foreign affairs” receded, the Hotel is now keen to re-integrate into the city with a new concept and a new appearance.

Against this backdrop, the new Guangzhou Imperial Traders Hotel was re-planned into a complex of hotel, restaurants, retail and co-working area, targeting a younger market and requiring as much cost control as possible. The original building is a typical internationalist style building from the 1980s, which we find necessary to preserve from both aesthetic and conservational perspectives. The original façade plaster of the tower, which continues serving as hotel, was replaced with a white mosaic veneer, highlighting the building block in a sculptural language while turning the façade into a canvas for the subsequent multimedia lighting. The podium part, which houses the stores, restaurants and co-working area, is wrapped with light-weight louvered aluminum panels and embedded with white indirect light sources, creating a transparent, light and bright appearance. The annex building connected to the tower through a corridor bridge is mainly occupied by stores and restaurants, and serves as an extension of the shopping mall in the tower: this connection is highlighted by the bright red bridge and the façade elements of the same color.

The multimedia lighting on the façade is also particularly thoughtful. B+C collaborated with Berlin-based lighting design partner realities:united to devise a simple geometric design for the tower’s façade; for the podium, the façade’s white embedded light source can be CNC’d to create a pixelated abstract pattern. In contrast to the surrounding buildings that are trying to capture the eyes with brighter, more vibrant, more complex lighting, the Imperial Traders Hotel stands out with its “reduced” lighting concept to open up a unique dialogue with the surrounding urban space.