By 2017, China’s burgeoning Suzhou precinct will play host to a new seven-storey retail complex that will also feature the world’s largest monocoque roof structure, shaped like the wing-span of a giant bird.

Benoy architects are responsible for the design of the new retail and entertainment hub that will span 340,000sqm across three interconnected buildings, joined by land bridges and cascading landscaped terraces.

The wide-span shell roof is a striking feature and will be the largest free standing structural skin, or monocoque roof, and is said to have been inspired by the mythical Chinese phoenix.

“We envisaged the structure as a bird resting above an oasis with the striking curved architecture mimicking its wings,” explained Benoy Director Winnie Tsang.

“To turn this concept into a viable and deliverable structure has taken an unwavering commitment by our Team and it is incredibly rewarding to see us making history as we go.”

The site’s close proximity to the Jinji Lake has also seen water meander its way into the design, this time in the form of a cascading water curtain spanning 50 metres from the building and back towards the lake.

In addition to the giant retail complex, four office towers, two world-class luxury apartment towers, and a top-rated hotel tower have also been planned for the Suzhou compound. This will include a massive skyscraper designed by British architects RMJM that has been dubbed “giant underpants” by Chinese commentators.

Images: Benoy Architects.