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Zhima Health Store in Chengdu: New Application of Traditional Means by WUUX Architecture Design Studio

Project name:
Zhima Health Store in Chengdu
Architecture firm:
WUUX Architecture Design Studio
Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Zheng Yan; Video: Rock Xiao
Principal architect:
Peng Shanxiang, Zhu Chenxu
Design team:
Wang Yong, Teng Shujun, Yu Yue, Jiang Fugang, Liu Yutian, Jia Zhiyong, Zhu Chenxu, Tan Wei, Zhang Guiying, Song Wenshu, Liang Fan, Wen Huijie, Shen Xiaoxue
Soft Outfit Design: WUUX Architecture Design Studio; Project Planning: Le Brand Strategy Agency; Copywriting Agency: NARJEELING
Interior design:
Built area:
2160 m²
Site area:
Design year:
December 2021
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Environmental & MEP:
PROL Leading Designer: Zhenhua Luo
Tools used:
Beijing Tongrentang Health Pharmaceutical Company
Commercial › Store

In August last year, Zhima Health, a brand owned by the renowned TCM firm Tongrentang, put its first store in Southwest China in place, which lies in the intersection of Chunxi Road and Zongfu Road in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province. Its interior design and facade renovation projects were completed by WUUX Architecture Design Studio. Tracing back to the development of Chengdu and the brand Tongrentang originated from Beijing, it is noted that they resonate with each other to some extent even though they have seemingly irrelevant histories.

1. The City and the Brand

Meeting in the Right place at the Right Time

Chengdu was built in the late Warring States period (331BC). Neither has the city changed its name nor relocated for more than 2300 years, which distinguishes itself from the other cities in China, becoming “the chosen city” for numerous people nowadays. In 1669, the renowned brand Tongrentang was founded in Beijing, providing medicine for the imperial court of the Qing Dynasty 300 years ago. The brand has been remaining true to its original aspiration, fulfilling the mission of cultivating both noble morality and benevolence to do good to society and to keep people healthy. In 1924, Yang Sen, the governor of Sichuan Province, improved the municipal administration of Chengdu and built roads, including Chunxi Road. The two Chinese characters “Chunxi” means that everyone is in high spirits as if they were invited to a banquet and enjoyed a sumptuous feast, or as if they climbed on a platform in spring and feasted their eyes on a stunning view. Chunxi Road, with memories of countless Chengdu people accommodated, has never been failing to live up to its name for nearly a hundred years and has continuously refreshed people’s perception of the new world as the landmark of urban life.

Being the new retail brand owned by Tongrentang, Zhima Health came with great reputation in 2018. After the baptism of time, it entered the new market, opened up territory, and created new scenarios by bearing its original aspiration in mind, which was demonstrated in a vigorous and avant-garde manner. From this aspect, it seems that Zhima Health and Chunxi Road meet in the right place at the right time. Having analogous experiences, the brand, the space and the city reveal an unprecedented world to people in the process of time moving forward.

2. Demonstrating the Royal Identity of Zhima Health

Presenting the Order of Etiquette and Harmony

The logic of space design follows the order of etiquette in the East. A promenade is arranged in a symmetrical layout with a well-organized central axis, stepping toward the future east at the starting point of North Chunxi Road. 12 red lacquer colonnades and the jade green path modeled on the road particularly built for ancient emperors in China form a scenario which resembles a stage play.

In the flagship store in Chengdu, WUUX Architecture Design Studio reinforced the royal identity of Zhima Health by applying traditional Chinese elements - red walls, glazed tiles, Dougong (a system of brackets inserted between the top of a column and a crossbeam), bricks, colonnades, and old medicine cabinets piled up and layered - which yielded unusual results within the space frame built by metal, glass and other modern materials. This was the first time that the designer had demonstrated the royal identity of Zhima Health to the public so unreservedly, which helped the brand achieve its localization in Chengdu. Meanwhile, the brand image was also rooted in the city by relying on the magnificent royal culture.

3. “Xiang, Shi, Yang, Yi

Customization According to Seasonal Changes

The space is divided into three functional areas, providing herbal coffee and drinks, healthy light meals and health care products. The display of the three areas is different due to their attributes and products provided.

4. Glamorous Eastern Fantasy

Large amounts of stretch ceiling are applied to the space to create lighting overhead, allowing light and shade to float in the air. The light pouring down gives viewers an airy sense, which makes the space become a natural place that leads to an inner journey. Some parts of the ceiling create a mirror image of the space arrangement, stirring viewers’ mind by providing an immersive experience while they walk, giving birth to fantasies.

Different lighting modes with various colors adapt to the dynamic local lifestyle. Being a retail store selling health care products in the day and a bar with a tag of health preservation at night, the conversion of scenarios of different functions is efficient and convenient. The application of multimedia further enriches the presentation of the space and the brand, with LED screens and other new media installations infusing a romantic feeling and possibilities brought by high technology into the space.

Spanning a hundred years, from being a time-honored brand to setting up new retail scenarios, Tongrentang not only has been dedicated to cultivating both noble morality and benevolence and to doing good to society in TCM means, but also has pioneered new markets with trial and error, which is what makes the brand remain a high status.

“People’s concern about health therapy will eventually return to the concern about physical and mental health.” The new retail scenarios of Zhima Health, even though they are operated in different modes, are built based on the core concept of Tongrentang which is four Chinese characters, namely “Xiang, Shi, Yang, Yi”. (“Xiang” means combining high-quality TCM diagnosis and treatment with modern medical means to help people unlock the secrets of the body; “Shi” means integrating TCM regimen into daily diet; “Yang” means customizing different regimen according to seasonal changes and individual’s constitution to keep a balance in life; “Yi” means preventing disease and providing precise treatment for disease so that people can enjoy a healthy life.)

In addition to presenting a multi-functional space, the flagship store in Chengdu also blends the scenarios, products, customer experience and interactions with the brand genes and market demands by adopting a future-oriented perspective. It is the first step for the brand to activate its vitality in the city. Now, in the new retail territory of health therapy, Zhima Health is declaring that the future has come in the most dynamic city in China.

By Liliana Alvarez

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