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42,333 Steel Orbs Cover Futuristic Chinese Shopping Mall

Known for its futuristic appeal and occasional wackiness, the Dutch firm UNStudio had a pretty singular vision for its latest large project, which involved cladding a Chinese shopping center in 42,333 steel spheres. This fetching and rather overwhelming modular façade wraps around the entirety of Hanjie Wanda Square, a new high-end mall in the Wuchang district of Wuhan, China. If you count yourself among the desk toy aficionados dismayed by the Feds' campaign against Buckyballs, then consider this building a paean to the late craze, as it looks unmistakably like one of the magic magnet constructions blown up to an ungodly size.

After dark, the shopping center joins the overexcited nocturnal glow of the modern Chinese city, as LED fixtures contained in each one of these orbs cause illuminated sections of the structure to cycle through a variety of shades. The interior takes UNStudio's Space Odyssey aesthetic and applies it on a massive scale, with an abundance of white and chrome that firm founder Ben van Burkel describes as, erm, "an almost fantastical world... similar perhaps to the world of theater, whereby the retail complex becomes almost a stage or a place of performance and offers a variety of different impressions and experiences to the visitor." Yet somehow, this isn't the wildest Chinese mall out there.

· UNStudio wraps hanjie wanda square in 42,333 steel spheres [Designboom]