Designing a Better Supermarket

NL Architects Sanya Lake Park Supermarket China

It wasn’t until I had lived other places that I realized how terrible the grocery stores in Mississippi are. I was wandering around a Gelson’s or Albertsons when a coworker griped about how “disgusting” this particular store was. It wasn’t the worst I had seen in L.A., really it was just average, but it was still better than any grocery store in my hometown. And who likes being told that their food comes from a sad, gross place? Or the food they ate for 18 years. Economically, it makes complete sense for a grocer in rural MS to have less frills than one in Beverly Hills or even Los Feliz, but I still somehow felt deficient and isolated. Seeing images of the Sanya Lake Park Super Market, I feel a similar ache of what might have been.

Or what might be. Designed for a resort town in China, it shouldn’t be too surprising that NL Architects, the same architects responsible for the stepped terraces of the Sanya Lake Park Super Market, are the very ones that proposed a pool house with stepped terraces. But it’s not as simple as replacing the water of the pool house for plants and soil in the store. In designing the Super Market for China, the architects have hidden plenty of the space below ground. Maybe most of it. The parking, the loading docks, even the part where you actually shop for food is below grade. At the street level, the corners of the building mass stretch upward, and at each apex of the triangular site, a different small shop opens up to the street.  But below these retail and cafe spaces are the bright, linoleum aisles of food in cans, bags and boxes.

This is an imaginative project which breaks the traditional grocery store box and sculpts it into something more exciting. It might make every grocery store I’ve ever been to seem dumpy, but at least I know I’m not alone in my sentiment.

NL Architects Sanya Lake Park Supermarket China

NL Architects Sanya Lake Park Supermarket China

Alex Dent

May 3, 2013 / By