U-Center Plaza: Waiting for the Next Ten Minutes
The U-Center is a famous shopping center located at the corner of a crowded intersection next to Wudaokou subway station in Beijing. Z+T Studio was commissioned to rejuvenate a linear passageway to the east of U-Center building. The goal is to create a dynamic and inviting place for the pedestrians and the people from the nearby neighborhoods to spend quality time there, and the U-Center could benefit from the crowd to open more retail spaces on the east side of the complex.
The design team was inspired by the nickname of the Wudaokou intersection-the Center of the Universe and developed a daring idea of a rotating turntable. It plays like the center of the universe as a forceful focal point of the entire space. This landscape feature breaks down the monotonous feeling of the linear space. The people have started to use the place beyond a passageway.
A series of planters and wood benches are placed along the linear water fountain through the site. It invites people to sit down to rest and interact with water features. The 17-meter diameter turntable is placed at the entry of the plaza. It houses partial of the linear water fountain, light fixture and a planter with wood seats. The turntable takes 50 minutes to finish one rotation cycle.
The turnable in its circle.
The seating area along the fountains separate the plaza from the parking.
The alignment of the part of the fountain on the turntable with the rest of the fountain intrigues the spray of the fountains. The water show lasts for 10 minutes and the turntable will begin another rotating cycle.
The 1 hour movement cycle gives unique sense of time on the site. The U-Center Plaza has become a place for people to sit, observe, play with water or simply feel the pass of time. Since the completion of the project, the site has quickly become very popular civic space for the local community.
The people come to meet with friends, the family come to play with water and just simply chill in the summer. To experience the rotating turntable and the magic of the sudden spray of water have become a ritual for many locals. The plaza also has served as a platform and stage for fashion shows and performances. The project demonstrates how the unique rotating fountain has animated and transformed a back-of-the house type of passageway to an urban sensation.