My current design obsession at the moment are the latest architecture and interiors works by a small studio practice in Shanghai called neri&hu. The moniker of neri&hu is derived from the last names of founding partners, Lyndon Neri and Rosanna Hu, both architects who have taught studios together here at the Hong Kong University Architecture Graduate School.
The Shanghai-based research and design studio has completed a number of very interesting works in the last 12 months alone, building a very prolific list of achievements reflected in the numerous awards and international press coverage they receive. Projects range from fine dining establishments, to hotels, to retail boutiques, each with a design aesthetic completely different from the other, and with a style derived solely on research extracted from each programmatic brief and site character.
+ CAPO (ROCKBUND)
CAPO, another amazing F+B establishment by JIA Hotel’s founder Yenn Wong, is located in the 1911 building of Shanghai’s Rockbund. This restaurant focuses on the Italian rustic “Cookhouse concept”. Like at 208 Duecento Otto in Hong Kong, you can taste authentic hand-crafted Neapolitan-style pizza pies and Fiorentina steaks by Chef Enzo Carbone, also previously of 208.
The design team of neri&hu aimed for theatrical history with their interpretation of the architectural typology of the Italian “Basilica”. The main dining halls are planned as a series of intimate rooms, each with unique spatial identity. For example one can sit in the “nave” of the restaurant, which is framed by rows of timber columns and brick portals with tables and chairs lined up like pews. For me, i’d rather try out a full dinner sitting in the pyramid-like private chapel area of the restaurant. These days dining can be a religious experience. neri&hu just takes up to the next level.
EAT Capo (at Rockbund) . 5F, Yifeng Galleria, 99 East Beijing Road (Near Muse on the Bund), Shanghai, China . T: 86-21-5308-8332
+ DESIGN REPUBLIC OUTLET
Founded by neri&hu’s partners, this fairly new retail furniture shop, Design Republic, is meant to import the best curated collection of design products by the world’s best designers. This outlet store in the outskirts of Shanghai at Qingpu is anything but a warehouse for overstocked goods. Personally, it looks more like an elegant destination design gallery worth making a drive for.
The existing building on site was kept intact, but veiled with a new facade made of an carbon fiber panels. Simultaneously, a new internal journey was also created carefully without demolition of any existing structure. The 2,000 sqm store spread over 3-stories, is anchored by a spiral feature staircase where products from clothing to chairs are placed on display. The journey up the stairs allows viewers to reflect on the galleries’ unique spatial displays while wall cut outs throughout the plan also allow the passerby to view the user on the stair as thought they were on a stage.
SHOP Design Republic Qingpu . A7 Design Collective, JSWB, 5369 (m) Jiansong Road, Qingpu District, Shanghai . +86-021-5975-4381
+ WATERHOUSE HOTEL at SOUTH BUND
It’s industrial-chic spaces in Shanghai like the Waterhouse Hotel, that make me wonder A) why Hong Kong LOVES demolishing old buildings instead of just retrofitting them and B) why the Hong Kong government doesn’t do enough to promote the re-use of Industrial spaces for amazing new program. Take for example the four-story Waterhouse, which is built within a three-storey Japanese army building from the first half of the 20th century. The existing site sits adjacent to the Huangpu River, with gorgeous views of the Pudong cityscape. While the existing building is only three stories, an additional fourth floor was added by the architects, using forms which reference back to the industrial ships which pass by. This “industrial” finish is made successful with the use of Cor-Ten steel on the facade, sitting harmoniously with the mostly raw-concrete structural base of the building.
This careful juxtaposition between structures new and old is also evident with the way internal forms of glass, white surfaces, and timber, delicately touch existing walls in the hotels 19 rooms. Windows either look out to the city scene, or to public spaces and internal courtyard inside the hotel, a manifestation of the cultural relationship to historic communal living in this very dense city.
STAY The Waterhouse Hotel at South Bund . Maojiyauan Road No.1-3, Zhongshan Road South, Huangpu District, Shanghai . +86-21-6080-2988