The Origin of the River Plaza – Chengdu CIFI Cmall | Platform Design Group

The Origin of the River Plaza – Chengdu CIFI Cmall | Winner of the Merit Award in the 2022 WLA Awards – Built Small category

The Origin of the River is the main entry plaza in C-Mall (CIFI Shopping Center). This new development is located on the north side of Nibatuo Forest Park in Xindu District in Chengdu and is adjacent to the Sichuan Conservatory of music. With a total land area of 45,000 square meters, C-Mall is designed to bring the nature of the forest park into its multi-layered architecture complemented by beautiful music played throughout its landscape space, creating a unique retail experience.

Elements of nature and music are integrated into the entire site’s interior and exterior space. These elements unify architecture, interior, and landscape design language and are infused into various areas. With its well-rounded design, C-Mall provides a rich shopping and lifestyle experience for fashionistas, residents of nearby neighborhoods, families, students, and children.

We imagine this development as an architectural marriage of seven elements; hence seven themed zones evoke different reactions based on the retail program, layout, exterior functional space, and the area’s urban framework.

  1. The Origin of the River (Gateway Plaza with landmark bridge)
  2. Starlight Meadow (Green Avenue)
  3. Tidal Sound Beach
  4. Valley of Wind (Inner Commercial Street)
  5. Green Post (Arrival Plaza)
  6. Green Livingroom
  7. Green Belt Garden

The Origin of the River Plaza – Gateway Plaza in the core landscape area

This plaza acts as the window facing the city and connects with nature while attracting people simultaneously. To complement the grand gesture of the architectural façade and sunken plaza by the main entrance, the paving pattern of the entire site converges from three directions towards the main entrance. One of the geometries of the paving pattern blends in with the footbridge crossing the sunken plaza. The undulating parapet wall of the footbridge creates an eye-catching “landform.” These landscape treatments make this space an Instagramable spot that attracts visitors, connects pedestrian flow from the Starlight Medow in the south, and creates an elegant experience to pass through.

The Experiences of “Passing Through” and “Resonating with Nature” in The Origin of the River

Intertwined vertical green and stone walls give the illusion that you’re deep in nature. The footbridge on top of the sunken plaza allows visitors to pass through the valley and admire and photograph the experience.

The overall form of the footbridge parapet wall is carefully designed via GRASSHOPPER software. The design language of the parapet wall creates a sculptural yet welcoming space around the “valley.” The landscape design makes the parapet wall look like a leaf that breathes or a life form with the movement of stretching or bending. The sculptural parapet wall would become dense and tight at the turning point and loosen up like a leaf vein in the straight portion. ChromeFlair paint is applied on the parapet wall, and the color of the paint would change per different light sources at different times of the day.

The Origin of the River Plaza – Chengdu CIFI Cmall

Location: Chengdu, China

Landscape architecture firm: Platform Design Group

Collaborators: Chongqing Jisheng Garden Co., LTD

Client: CIFI Group

Photography credits: Holi Landscape photography

About Damian Holmes 3274 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at