The Shanghai Fashion Centre, situated on the banks of the Huangpu River, included the restoration and transformation of an old textile factory dating from the 1920s. A dozen buildings were restored, and two new ones created, to provide 140000m² of useable space. For such a vast project, it was necessary to find a balance between the whole and its parts, and manage the scale of the spaces in relation to one another and to the river, 400m in width.
The existing buildings are a fine example of 20th century industrial architecture for textile manufacture with a range of structures in wood, steel and concrete which give character to the site. The architectural approach of the project reveals and highlights these existing features to their best advantage. New architectural insertions punctuate the older structures and combine or contrast with them. A veil of semi-transparent perforated metal floats above the highest building transforming its appearance and drawing attention from across the river and neighbouring areas.
The major part of the site is covered with red brick shed buildings with brown tile roofs and timber and steel structures which we have revealed as much as possible in internal and external public spaces. The factory offices and the water tower have been restored to their original condition as faithfully as possible.
Combining New and Old
At the entrance to the site, the structure of the old buildings, a combination of timber and steel dating from the 1920s, is set off magnificently by the design of the entry plaza. An external covered entrance space is created by making openings in existing walls, and a glazed roof and wooden floor create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. From here, can be accessed the restored historic entry hall of the Fashion Centre as well as exhibition and reception areas. The steel roof trusses of the covered gallery along the pedestrian street, which date from the 1930s, were found to be in perfect condition. Recuperated historic iron artefacts are incorporated into the wooden floors for decoration.
The fashion show hall is 9m high, 26m wide and 60m long with a minimalist interior allowing for a great flexibility of use. The existing windows were lengthened to the ground and the roof structure and walls were painted white. The main sliding door is covered with a motif of dark interwoven metal.
A pedestrian promenade links gardens and squares for events, and leads to the banks of the Huangpu River.
The new facilities include a fashion show hall, conference rooms, exhibition rooms, design studios, offices, commercial outlets, an 800-place car park, restaurants, and a hotel apartment complex facing the river. The whole site is a pedestrian zone.
Over the years, the factory buildings have undergone numerous alterations and extensions. All kinds of protrusions, plus numerous little additions marked the original architecture of the factory. A detailed analysis of each of the buildings allowed us to determine what should be preserved as architectural heritage and what could be demolished or transformed.
At the same time, we worked on a master plan for the whole site incorporating public spaces. The project became a large pedestrian street serving a sequence and hierarchy of spaces, leading from Yangshupu Lu Raod to the Huangpu River. These include the entry plaza, the central square and the river edge, each space being a place for meeting and exchange in an original architectural setting. Lateral pedestrian streets link all parts of the project to these spaces.
The ground plane is a rhythmical composition of red brick and stone underlining the repetitive character of the facades. Along the river, a three-meter-high 100year flood wall is integrated into the landscape by a sloping garden. Ramps lead to a raised wooden walkway along the river edge. The design of street furniture is of a simple and modern style and evokes the water theme. A cascading fountain positioned on the main pedestrian axis signals the river to the visitor.
– Project owner: Shangtex Holding (Group) Corporation
– Architect: Arte Charpentier Architectes
UD Architecture Design Institute, Xian Dai Architecture Design group
– City: Shanghai
– Country: China
– Competition winner: 2009
– Delivery: 2012
– Site area: 12.8 acres
– Built area: 150 000 sqm