By the end of 2019, Wutopia Lab completed the facade renovation of Fenglin Road Street Community Cultural Activity Center in Xuhui District, Shanghai. It creates a special public space for the original peaceful street, showing an infinite transparent smiling expression.
▼改造后外观，external view after renovation ©CreatAR Images
▼改造前后立面对比，comparison of the facade before and after renovation ©（左）CreatAR Images，（右）Wutopia Lab
The Community Cultural Activity Center is the combination of Lin Ximing Modern Paper-cut Art Museum, Community Volunteer Service Center, Youth Activity Center and Lei Feng Volunteer Station, etc. It’s not only an ordinary service center, but also an activity area for nearby residents. The original layout of the center cannot meet the demand, and the renovation is necessary due to a long-term water leak. The Wutopia Lab is responsible for the facade design.
The center is located on Shuangfeng Road, which is flanked by industrial buildings built in the 1970s and 1980s. Facing the street, there are continuous walls and gables of residential buildings, occasionally there are also shops. The spatial scale is pleasant and the trees grow well. When you are walking down this road, it’s like travelling back in time, as if back to the early days of reform and opening up.
▼改造后的文化活动中心，culture center after renovation ©CreatAR Images
We wouldn’t exist without memory
I chose to become the community planner of Fenglin Road Street is partly because of my memories with this community. From April 2018 to January 2019, I came here three times a week, due to my family’s illness. The original strange road then became more and more familiar to me and somehow shaped my memory. One of my memories is the way to buy the medicine, from Dong’an Road to the pharmacy next to Zhongshan Hospital. It’s a short but unfriendly journey. Fortunately, an arcade provided me with shade and a place to catch my breath.
Fenglin Road Street is full of hospitals and medical schools. There is pain, and despair. But more than that, there is hope. Fenglin Road Street is a dense community of public housing built in the 1970s and 1980s. It also has a large elderly population and the residents here have a strong sense of community attachment. But these neighborhoods are also aging. The expression of the building is a little dim and the energy seems to be fading.
▼轴测图，axonometric ©Wutopia Lab
Design is the memory I keep
I shaped the community cultural activity center as a concrete expression of my memory. Therefore, I wanted to get rid of the heavy, fortress-like façade and create a colonnade as a gray space to provide breathing space for passers-by, such as an arcade.
▼改造后平面图，消解厚重的立面墙体，plan after renovation, get rid of the heavy walls ©Wutopia Lab
I decided to adopt a traditional craft that was almost dying out in Shanghai — artificial stone with textures cut with an axe. Apply the cement mortar mixed with white stones to the surface of the building, and cut it after hardening to form a patterned stone surface. A worker can only finish one square meter a day. This is like a cure that requires patience and persistence. You won’t see the effect for a long time. But one day the safety net was removed and the delicate finish was revealed, it was all worth it.
▼改造后的立面采用掺入白石子的水泥砂浆，cement mortar mixed with white stones is applied on the new facade ©CreatAR Images
I embedded a total of 50 metal maple leaves on the facade and the ground, which have three different side lengths: 15cm, 12cm and 8 cm. On the one hand, this is to echo the maple leaf sign of Fenglin Road Street. On the other hand, it is to commemorate the maple leaf season, the autumn, when my family’s illness began to heal. That was the hope.
▼立面嵌有不同尺寸的金属枫叶，the facade is embedded with metal maple leaves ©CreatAR Images
▼立面细部，details of the facade ©CreatAR Images
The climatic boundary behind the colonnade is transparent glass. This improves the lighting of the interior space. At the same time, the public character of the colonnade space is greatly enhanced because of its brightness. The orange color of the maple leaf is also the color of the edge of the arch. The flared arch is designed to prevent the arcade from looking like a piece of paper. The orange arch reveals a transparent smile for Shuangfeng Road. After knowing all the facts of life, and still love life.
▼立面后的柱廊空间，colonnade space behind the facade ©CreatAR Images
▼玻璃立面提升空间公共性，glass facade helps enhance the public character of the space ©CreatAR Images
▼夜晚的柱廊与室内空间，colonnade space and the interior in the night ©CreatAR Images
The Renaissance of urban micro space is a reorganization of memory
Close to the market, the community cultural activity center is the only way to buy food for many residents. During the construction period, residents around always ask about the progress of project. They are all looking forward to the reopening of the center. After the renovation, the community cultural activity center becomes a popular place of Shuangfeng Road. The significance of urban micro space is not only to create a beautiful scene, but also to refine and reorganize the memory of individual and group. Memory can be the ultimate definition of our lives through various forms. The façade renovation of Fenglin Road Street Community Cultural Activity Center is exactly a redefinition of the memory.
▼改造后的建筑夜景，night view of the building after renovation ©CreatAR Images
▼立面金属枫叶反射灯光，metal maple leaves on the facade reflect light in the night ©CreatAR Images
Project name: The façade renovation of Fenglin Road Street Community Cultural Activity Center, Xuhui District
Design company: Wutopia Lab
Chief architect: Yu Ting; Min Erni
Project architect: Zhao Xiaoling
Design consulting: Lingwai Architectural Studio
Photography: CreatAR Images
Client: Fenglin Road Street of Xuhui District
Floor area: 77.8㎡
Location: Shanghai, China
Design time: 2019.03 to 2019.05
Construction time: 2019.06 to 2019.11