Chengdu mall has everything but crowds

Chengdu mall has everything but crowds
Winding escalators lend opulence to the interior of the world’s largest building, a glass and steel structure with an undulating silhouette.

CHINA - With its undulating silhouette and hulking size, the New Century Global Centre - the world's biggest building - is impossible to miss among the tall skyscrapers of Chengdu. The massive glass and steel structure sits snugly like a heavy metal box placed on the earth by the gods in this south-western Chinese city of 14 million.

The centre officially opened on Sept 1 in Tianfu New District in Chengdu's south - a new business area that aims to accelerate the city's development. It is 100m tall, 500m long and 400m wide, offering 1.7 million sq m of floor space - or 12 times that of Singapore's largest mall, VivoCity. Put another way, it could fit 20 Sydney Opera Houses.

If that does not begin to hint at its massive scale, consider what's inside: a university campus, two hotels, a shopping mall, an Imax cinema, offices, a convention centre and a seaside resort with water lapping on a fake beach, an Olympic- size ice rink and Mediterranean- themed shopping village.

Clearly, if anyone needs a definition of excess, this is it. When I stepped through the revolving doors of the all-in-one shopping mall, vast khaki-toned marbled halls lined with palm trees greeted me. The cavernous central atrium compelled me to gaze upwards to figure out just how high the glass ceiling went.

Natural sunlight filtered in through the wave-like roof structure as winding escalators - some golden in colour and with bright blue LED panels on the sides - criss-crossed one another, giving a sense of opulence.

Brands such as H&M, Uniqlo, Adidas and Korean anchor tenant Lotte Department Store are spread out throughout the mall. Singapore is represented by coffee and toast cafe Ya Kun in the basement level.

But it is a water park with an impressive 5,000 sq m artificial beach - and a huge LED screen displaying tropical sunsets - that is the mall's centrepiece, giving locals in land-locked Chengdu a taste of the sea for 180 yuan (S$37) per entry.

The local government is said to have spent as much as £5 billion (S$10 billion) on the entire project, according to British daily The Telegraph.

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