Cheungvogl has created an open exhibition
retail space around a robotic system within the restoration of the 110 year old iconic
department store, Au Pont Rouge in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
in 1907, Au Pont Rouge located along the Red Bridge on River Moika was
built in the tradition of great European department stores such as
Galleries Lafayette in Paris or Selfridges in London. Following the
revolution in 1919, the building was renamed and converted into
Volodarsky Sewing Factory and in the 1930s, the original cupola was
demolished. In 2011, the cupola was reconstructed and the building
underwent functional and architectural transformations to restore Au
Pont Rouge to its original state as a world class department store in
The building originally
designed by Konstantin de Rochefort and V.A. Lipskii in 1906 was
engineered with steel frames encased in concrete structure. The
building’s distinctive cupola, central atrium and art nouveau
staircase connects eight levels of the building.
department stores introduced not only the early modern retail model, but
also had a strong influence on the social and urban network of the
cities and societies, acting as a catalyst for social exchange and
redefining the role of consumerism. Within the renovation of the
historical structure, Cheungvogl recreates the past innovation of Au
Pont Rouge by transforming the new Multi-space into a truly public space
of social, cultural and economic meaning to the city of Saint
The Multi-space galleries.
The Multi-space galleries.
origins of the department store lay in the accelerated economy expansion
and growing affluent middle-class with the Second Industrial Revolution
in the late 19th century. At the turn of the 20th century,
transformations brought by digital revolution (Third Industrial
Revolution) and changes in consumption behaviour and social habits
challenges the meaning and existence of department stores. The global
shift towards online shopping and the reshape of consumerism has
rendered many classical department stores and the retail model obsolete.
On the brink of the current Fourth Industrial Revolution, which
interlinks information technologies with automated processes in all
aspects of life, there is an immediate need to rethink the core values
of the future retail model.
The robotic system (left) adjacent to the historical atrium anchors the
function of the building.
The robotic system (back)
adjacent to the historical atrium operates as the backdrop of the
The robotic system (right)
operates at a speed of 5 meter per second per robot arm.
Au Pont Rouge, Cheungvogl creates a precedence to implement a robotic
system to choreograph new experiences that encompasses historical,
architectural, technological and cultural values for visitors to enjoy
spending time, interacting and exploring in the store. The physical
shopping experience is tailored for visitors’ entertainment with
hands-free comfort and efficiency that the automated system offers. The
exhibition space is freed from all trading operations and stocks,
unfolding the potentials of creating a retail environment with enhanced
spatial qualities and surprising experiences with alternative uses of
The central atrium
connects the eight levels of the building with natural light.
The robotic system (left)
adjacent to the historical atrium.
The robotic system in operation.
robotic system silently conducts all operational and logistical aspects
in the background. Resourcing a mobile application to scan items
to be added to the virtual basket and upon purchase, the robotic system
proceeds the order to the point of sale or prepares the delivery to
alternative locations. The classical trading process between patrons and
sales is replaced by informative consultation with strong focus on
human interactions and intellectual exchange, setting new standards for
services. The speed of the machine along with the open exhibition retail
provides simultaneous fast, slow and very slow pace shopping experience.
The check-out bar serves exclusive beverages from around the world with
consultants offering bespoke consultancy specific for each client.
the external envelope of Au Pont Rouge is restored to its original state
in accordance with local regulations, the sensitive internal upgrades of
the historic icon is designed to enable the transformation of the
department store into a new centrepiece for commercial, social and
The store is designed in a museum format.
design respects the integrity of the architecture as a symbol of
progressive culture. It aims to interweave a subtle yet dynamic hybrid
between the architecture and its context. Heavily damaged structural
parts, the distinctive art-nouveau staircase, balustrades and windows
are restored and repaired to its historical conditions. Original
non-structural elements were destroyed or removed over the last century
of factory use and abandonment.
translucent glazed panels pass by the facades without anchoring to the
existing, creating a 100 meter long gallery between the building façade
and the interiors. The salon in its traditional sense, forms social
gathering space that engages visitors to converse, redefine taste and
spend time. Stretching along the peripheral of the building, the salons
filter daylight and city views across to the central atrium and connect the eight levels of the building with natural light.
Every space is tailored for
its specific dimensions and how it exists and co-exists within the
The new insertion is reduced to a sequence of translucent layers,
organised and built upon the appreciation of the authentic craftsmanship
so that the two can coexist to envision a new kind of connectivity
between the urban fabric, architecture and people. Materials used are
pure and light, both in their physical substance and poetic
The light industrial flooring and veil-like expanded metal ceiling
reveals the support systems of the restored structural elements and
newly integrated mechanical functions. Fixtures are simplistic in their
aesthetics but highly technical in their detailing and manufacturing
interconnected rooms defined by luminous interceptions allow spaces to
flow into one another. The simultaneous visual connections and
engagement between rooms and passages change the perception of space to
inspire curiosity to learn, observe, touch, and enquire through poetic
The store is designed to
encompass multi-faceted spatial experience, from shopping to social and
cultural gatherings, enhanced by designated sound palettes specific to
The curation goes beyond the
notion of selecting unique products from around the world. Each space is
dedicated to express the origins of where and how products were founded
and engineered. Expressing stories behind the brands reflect the high
culture that amalgamates art and science.
The curated spaces, designed to exhibit
niche objects in a museum format supported by the robotic system provide
opportunities for the visitors to interact, explore and experiment
presents a renewed approach to consumption.
The design creates and
unprecedented niche retail experience that customers want to spend time
exploring extraordinary objects and stories from around the world.
Paring down to the essentials of story-telling allow people to
participate, forming their knowledge about the objects and partake
within the process of making.
Interconnected rooms are defined by different degrees of translucencies
to allow spaces to flow into one another.
Through promoting thinking,
communication and interaction between people and objects, the
environments transform into a place for inspiration and education.
With the provision of space
as the new luxury, the holistic interpretation of the future retail
model rebrands Au Pont Rouge as an innovative one-of-a-kind department
store, which distinctively connects the architecture and its programming
as a transformer of public life.
The spa and treatment areas continue the simple materiality of the Au
Pont Rouge Galleries, utilizing translucent glass, white resin and metal
meshed ceiling. Translucent fixed and sliding panels are used to define
openness and privacy between the scenic city views overlooking Moika
River and the centre of the restored historical structure.
Between the city life and the variety of offers and activities in Au
Pont Rouge, the spa becomes a retreat from the fast pace - a slow space
in between. Inside the tranquillity, the changing daylight becomes the
only indicator of time.
To engage with the public and customers, the treatment facilities are
designed to house a variety of events, such as screenings, workshops,
presentations and talks.
Inside the spa and treatment areas, one room is dedicated to
self-reflection and the art of selfies. The “Selfie Room”, a testing
and sample room, creates a stage for visitors to feel like performers,
models and directors of the self-image at the same time.
The space features a long mirror wall, reflecting in the background is a
curved mesh that filters indirect lighting. The light is designed to
illuminate the faces perfectly without shadows. Upon entry, visitor
experiences a light tunnel with continuous reflections. Animating the
self-reflection within the abstract context, one is driven and inspired
to act, document and ultimately share the moment. The space merges the
online and offline experience of visitors and brands. By sharing the
self-image through social media, visitors create 15-minute fame for
themselves and advertisement space for the brand within their social
networks. In the shared posts, the brand itself is only apparent in the
The ‘Selfie Room’ is a physical social media advertising space and a
creative playground for self-reflection.
flexible and multi-functional Multi-space invites the public to engage in
unexpected programs and events such as workshops, fashion shows,
screenings, lectures, exhibitions and art performances, transforming Au
Pont Rouge from a niche retail environment into an interactive social
and cultural destination beyond its historical meaning to Saint