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August 31, 2016

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Mall to use sound to inject unique retail feeling

THE birds’ chirping in the bushes. The rustle of tree leaves in the breeze. The rhythm of the falling rain. The hourly chime of the Customs House Clock on the Bund. Shanghai dialect spoken in an authentic local accent. The renditions of the famous 1940s “golden voice” singer Zhou Xuan. Honestly, few people would see an immediate logical connection between the above sounds or expect to hear them at one place. But most people, if not all, would agree they should be all quite pleasing to the ears.

But the notion will probably change when Shanghai 189 Lane, a boutique shopping mall, lifts its veil in the fourth quarter of this year in Putuo District.

Located at the intersection of Xikang Road and Changshou Road and conveniently accessed by two metro lines, the first retail real estate project developed and operated by Citic Capital Holdings Ltd in Shanghai hopes to inject a unique experience on visitors as it is poised to introduce the concept of sound into daily mall operations, something untapped before by any of its peers in the country.

“We are probably the first in China to introduce a hologram or 3D sound system into a retail real estate project, designed to bring ‘vivid’ or ‘touchable’ listening experience to visitors,” said Lu Feng, managing director, Real Estate, Citic Capital. “Loudspeakers installed all over the mall will be used to deliver sound under various themes that might adapt to different seasons, special festive occasions or bring back some once-familiar local scene from a bygone era.”

A rather small shopping mall by gross floor area space, Lu and his team has come up with a good idea to “connect” the internal space of Shanghai 189 Lane with sound.

The design of “vertical” longtang, or back alley lanes, once a ubiquitous but nowadays rapidly disappearing architectural style in Shanghai, has been adopted in the project. Balconies on the same level opposite to each other help remind visitors of how intimate neighborhood could be found in the old days.

Under the company’s plan, different sounds such as classical music, pop songs, poetry reading, chorus and choir, musical instrument playing, beautiful sounds of nature such as the rainforest as well as sounds or voices that are reminiscent of the bygone era in Shanghai will be broadcast to deliver and embrace mall visitors with different and pleasant hearing experiences.

Citic Capital’s initiative to differentiate itself from other traditional shopping malls by tapping the human sense of hearing has received positive feedback from the leasing market as naked Hub, the co-working space brand under naked Group, and Choice, a lifestyle, O2O initiative by Intime Retail (Group) Co Ltd, were both attracted to Shanghai 189 Lane as the project’s anchor tenants.

“When Citic Capital approached us for this project, it seemed to me a very natural fit because naked is also a company that pushes the boundaries,” said Grant Horsfield, founder and chairman of naked Group. “I think sound, which can be a good experience and a bad experience, is the least experience that people think about in their lives. Finding the importance of sound is something we find attractive to this project.”

Occupying two floors, naked Hub at Shanghai 189 Lane will boast the largest event capacity out of the seven addresses in Shanghai across both sides of the Huangpu River.

For Choice, which has already opened more than 10 stores in neighboring Zhejiang and Anhui provinces since the brand’s debut in Hangzhou in June 2015, also hit it off with the project.

“Just at first sight, I found this project blends perfectly well with Choice’s scene-based operation concept,” said Xia Zhengyu, assistant to president, Intime Retail (Group) Co Ltd. “Positioned as a very congenial neighborhood mall, it is a wonderful match for the Choice brand which remains keen to promote an interactive and vibrant way of living.”

A live cooking station, for instance, will be set up at Choice to display the beauty of fresh food ingredients as well as to demonstrate the art of cooking to attract customers via the sense of sight, hearing, taste and smell. The demonstrations would also be broadcast live via screens installed across the mall, which mainly targets families particularly those with young children, according to Lu.

Opening its first retail real estate project in Changsha in 2010, Citic Capital’s China portfolio will also expand to Hefei and Beijing soon in addition to Shanghai 189 Lane.


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