Recycled glass used to create jade-like façade

Dec. 4, 2023
At night, LED lights behind the panels give the façade a stunning glow and a distinctive presence on a major Shanghai shopping thoroughfare.

When one of the most luxurious jewelry brands on the planet, Bulgari, chose to open a new 3,000-sq.-ft. store in Shanghai, one of the most fashion-conscious cities in the world, people expected a stunning retail result. What they may not have foreseen was how eco-conscious the store’s exterior would be as well.

Designed by MVRDV, the store’s façade became a statement piece, taking on a jewel-like quality that resembles Jade, one of China’s most precious stones. Although the material appears to have great value, it is, in fact, trash, or it would have been. The green panels are made from compressed recycled sintered green glass, a unique material effect that creates a translucent finish.

“The glass is completely recycled, produced at the Magna factory in Teutschenthal, Germany, which specializes in glass treatment and developed the chemical process that gives the Bulgari façade its jade look,” said project architect Jacob van Rijs, founding partner of MVRDV.

The layered panels form an Art-Deco-inspired pattern enhanced with gold-colored brass trim. The LED backlight, provided by LUCE5, was specially engineered to minimize the façade’s energy footprint while creating a stunning glow that highlights the unique textural quality of the glass. 

“The project demonstrates the potential of recycled materials, even in a luxury context, with integrated energy-efficient LED lighting, that advances MVRDV and Bulgari’s goal of store designs that are built using 100% circular economy materials,” said van Rijs. “Here is an example: given the right treatment and detailing, leftover champagne and beer bottles, which would otherwise be thrown away, become a glowing jewel for the city.”

This article appeared in the March 2022 issue of Architectural SSL magazine.

For more architectural lighting projects, products and news from LightSPEC (formerly Architectural SSL), subscribe to our newsletters and follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, X and Facebook.

About the Author

Architectural SSL staff

In January 2024, Architectural SSL evolved to LightSPEC. While the name changed, the editorial focus -- writing and developing audience-first content about architectural lighting in the built environment for architects, interior designers, lighting designers and manufacturers, and specifiers of commercial and residential lighting and controls -- remains the same.