The project is located in Shanghai, on the North bank of the Suzhou Creek. The area, once the vibrating industrial engine of the colonial Shanghai, is today undergoing an unprecedented and controversial process of transformation, where consistent portions of the original urban fabric, 'carpets' of shikumen intertwined with warehouses and industrial artifacts, are being cancelled together with the memory they represent, replaced by high rise residential and office towers.
The warehouse, an early 20 Century British facility for the production and the stock of textiles is among the few testimonies of the industrial history of the city still standing in the area. Its unconventionally big scale, 6000m2 on three floors, and its remarkable state of conservation had it a listed as a protected industrial heritage. In order to survive, the building had to be repurposed to new functions, technologically upgraded and transformed into flexible commercial and office spaces, readapted to a context radically transformed and different from the one it originally belonged to.
The architectural renovation project, first phase of a process that will include the design of all common areas and part of the future tenants' interiors, was devised as a careful mix of rigorous conservation and innovative solutions.
The original textures of the building resurfaced though a careful process of survey, cleaning, removal of non original additions, reconstruction of damaged or lost parts, always reversible and distinguishable from the original.
The internal circulation was redesigned around the main atrium, covered by a shimmering glass roof. The light steel-structure balcony, cantilevering from the old brick facade, spirals around the void, connecting the entrance to the upper floors. A sculptural surface of glass encloses the atrium, resolving roofing and facade with a unifying gesture and terminating in a wood clad canopy under which the new main access to the building is located.
Under these two glazed atriums past and present come together, both claiming their rights to expression. The two languages complement each others in a coherent and balanced whole.