Meicang Art District, Shanghai, China, 2011
Shanghai encapsulates the essence of glamour, refinement and modernity. This plan for a new arts district along the Huangpu River, across from the bustling Bund, brings together local history, optimism and an essential emergent style in an elemental, sophisticated, and site-specific design strategy.
The Shanghai Meicang Art District is part of a new effort to construct a continuous waterfront pedestrian path along the water. The challenge of the proposal was to create a new urban context around many existing conditions in an industrial site, and transform it into a new art and gallery complex for public use. The site is a former coal processing industrial facility, at once a memory of Shanghai’s industrial trading past and a testament to its rapid emergence as a global city. In addition to its prominent location, the site also contains reminders of its recent past which the government required to be preserved for its development: a long coal processing “corridor” building, a coal silo storage facility, an administrative building, and a historic Japanese villa.
In our proposal, these four distinct existing structures will be unified through a language of modernist abstraction. Each building is examined on its own merits. The design enhances the essential qualities of each respective building. Through material and sheen, abstract detailing and programmatic intervention, the buildings come together as a relational network, unified in style. The remarkable structure of the industrial silo building supports shimmering new cladding for the art museum. It stands as the central jewel on the grounds, reflecting the magnificent view of the Shanghai waterfront. A light-filled kaleidoscopic journey along the corridor structure is created on the upper level of the original structure. Underneath, one finds a shaded landscape of retail, cafes and outside seating.