"This is a kind of Aikido strategy where you use your enemy's energy for your own
purposes. Instead of fighting it, you take all the energy and shape it in unexpected and
Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron about The Tate Modern, London
Shanghai faced in the recent years an incredible development so that many industrial
compounds formerly located at the edge of the town are today located in areas
becoming more and more strategic for the re-valuation of the city. Historical industrial
sites often established strong symbolic relations with the community and at the same
time thanks to the particular morphology of these architectures are characterized by a
rich architectural environment that creates very convenient opportunities of functional
renovation. In a city that plays most of the chances of structural renovation by
reconverting more than 5 square kilometers of old industrial areas for the edge climax
represented by the 2010 World Expo, the opportunity to redevelop this site by opening
this originally clustered part of city back to the public become a primary strategic chance of re-qualification.
This large site of 12,780 sqm area with almost 40,000 sqm construction area where
formerly was operating one of the Three Guns textile factories, located in the heart of the Xuhui District, has such strong social and economical potentiality that in 2006 the Xuhui District Government, the Shangtex Holding Co. Ltd. and the Jie Fang Daily News papering Group founded jointly a company specifically created with the target to reconvert it into a public and commercial space open to the city.
Since in the past years Kokaistudios promoted through several cultural events the
relevant role of these kinds of re-qualifications, our architectural team have been invited from the very early beginning to cooperate with the developers in order to survey the real possibilities of re-conversion of the site and to identify the role that the project could play for the district and the city.
The common concept idea result of the preliminary study and confirmed during the
further development was to transform a textile production factory into a creative fashion design center, able to promote the growing Chinese design potentiality and at the same time to became a point of attraction for the city able to host a multi functional living concept, represented today by the successful landmark HighstreetTMLOFT.
Kokaistudios approach to the project started as usual from a deep analysis of the
architectural and structural potentiality of the infrastructure of the site and their
relationship with the environment.
The unusual massive volumes of the buildings and the morphology of the site originally
built as an enclosed space suggested us the possibility to reverse the past dynamic and
to create an open system that could become point of attraction from where new opportunities for higher life quality could spread around to surrounding environment and community.
The site presents 5 different buildings with very different characteristics of volume and
structure: main building is an unusual monolithic volume of 80 by 120 meters and 40
meters high located in the center of the area where in the past were located the
productive functions of the factory. Other building of relevant size is located on the east
border of the site facing XXX street with a strong potentiality of relation with the
surrounding so that it has been identified to become the front face of the project by
locating the main public access next to it. Other three building of minor dimensions two of them distributed in the area and one facing Jenguo road complete the site.
The first design task has been to find the way to plan the relations between the different functions and different since the target of the development was to hosts three main functions: 1/3 of the space for fashion designers showroom; 1/3 for creative loft-studios and office space and the last 1/3 for bar, restaurants inclusive of a large multifunctional hall for fashion related events. The complex functional program was executed by Kokaistudios in a creative way, synthesizing pragmatism and imagination by adopting a technique of carving the existing interior volumes so to create a series of internal events and point of attraction between different functions and at the same time to set links through the open spaces so to connect the buildings between them.
The design strategy adopted by Kokaistudios for the renovation of the external volumes
of the building was to work on the peculiar characteristic of each of them in order to re
use their original volumetric power but renovating the facades so to give them a new
colorful, ironic and light heart aspect.
On the main building we played with its original typical industrial strip windows,
transforming them in a huge monolithic glass box patterned with bubbles so to create a
huge iconic symbol for the project and at the same time provide the building a new skin that increase the energetic efficiency.
On the second main building facing XXlu, originally not characterized by strong
appearance but now become the new entrance for the entire site, we added a new
colored skin, composed by a pattern of laminated and back-painted glasses, that
embraces three floor of the building creating a strong visual effect, face of the project to the external part of the site. This glass skin turn under the main entrance of the site so to create a long glass canopy that drive the public from the street directly to the main building and become at the same time a large protected area where to host outdoor events together with the large square created between the two main buildings of the site. On this building Kokaistudios played with the existing infrastructure such as the emergency staircases directly facing the square by covering them with a skin composed by laser cut aluminum panels of rust color so to create a visual memory of the original industrial character of the site.
On the other building Kokaistudios played on the surfaces with different solutions based
on use of primary strong colors and the combination with metal decorations so to create different effects and define the different identity of each of them.
Having a limited budget for the internal portion of the buildings, due also to the intention of the developer to create a space completely adaptable to change continually setting, Kokaistudios concentrates its design in the definition of the volumes and the traffic, capitalizing the strong original industrial structures to give emphasis to the public spaces.
The massive volume of the main building has been carved in a way to create large open
spaces connected each other into an experience journey for the public; from the high
lobby located where in the past the largest machines of the factory allow high ceiling
spaces to the great public square, core of the commercial area of the project, where theoriginal industrial structure composed by pre-compressed concrete beams create the opportunity to reconvert the space into a vertiginous composition of terraces public
balconies and special overhanging volumes where Kokaistudios planned to locate the
front shops. The composition of these public spaces have been conceived in a way that
people can flow freely into the shopping mall by overlooking from every place to each of the boutiques and at the same time giving to the paths movements of contractions and dilatations in order to create a feeling of curiosity and desire to travel into the building. The top of the front portion of the building, thanks to the original industrial structure have been converted in the largest space in Shanghai where to host important fashion shows and exhibitions On the upper part of the building where the functions turn to be more private by locating corporate offices and studios-lofts the volume have been carved by two large towers of light that climb up to the roof and bring the natural daylight and fresh air to flow into the building.
Completion of the journey is the roof where Kokaistudios designed a heavenly roof top
garden of 4000 sqm area or amusement, relaxation for the project but also opportunity to give value to the entire area surrounded by high rise residential towers that faces directly the roof.
Also the other building has been internally reconverted with relevant operation
highlighted by the volume of the second commercial building. As for the main building
this volume has been carved by creating a slim opening visually connecting the entire
commercial floors so to add value to the higher floor levels previously hidden on the top of the building.
The entire project reveals how Kokaistudios carefully approaches each design challenge
by researching every time the special and peculiar characteristic of the project, this time in a re-conversion of an industrial landmark of Shanghai using its volumetric power and its potentiality of to express through its surfaces a new quality for the city.