Located in downtown Shanghai, the site sits next to an elevated light railway, immersed in the periodic roaring of trains passing by. Seen from above, it looks like is a shuttle with two curved boundaries ——the railways on the south and a curved wall to the north, which separates the site from an adjacent park with lush trees. It is accessed through the only entrance on the east.
▼弧形轨道和公园之间的场地，the site between curved railroads and a park
▼一期改造完成之后的4号楼和5号楼，Building#4,#5 after renovation Phase I
▼场地北侧公园中的大树，trees in the park to the north of the site
▼园区总体及一期改造的4号楼与5号楼模型，a model showing Building #4, #5 and the whole site after renovation
The existing buildings within the lot were built over a long period of time. Ranging from office buildings to warehouses, they are all of different sizes and structural types. Lacking order, this place remained as a large parking lot for office buildings nearby. Currently, neither the external spaces nor the interiors of the buildings are being efficiently used. So we were asked to renovate and make new plans for the entire site. Considering the complexity of the project, we broke down the design and construction into three phases. During the first phase, we turned building no.4 and no.5 into two office buildings, where the owner would relocate his own property from building no.1, now lying closest to the railways.
The two warehouses are prefabricated concrete constructions. Although they both appear to be five stories high from the outside, there are only three and two levels respectively inside. Initially, the owner wanted to divide the current interior space right into small offices, but that would unreasonably end up in rooms of 6 m height and 3 m width. Instead, we proposed adding mezzanine levels and turning them both into a four-story structure. Accordingly, we addressed the ensuing structural challenges.
▼改造前的4号楼与5号楼，building #4, #5 before renovation
Building no.4 had three floors before being renovated. The ground floor was 7 m high and the upper floors 4.5 m. We turned the former into a loft space for the client to rent out, and divided the latter into individual offices for his own use. In order to optimize the indoor lighting conditions, we used pattern glass in partition walls between the rooms and the corridor, and shift to transparent glass when the walls reach above 2.2 m to gain a continuous sense of space above head. Meanwhile, no suspended ceiling is installed, as we prefer to leave the original structures of the warehouse and all the equipments exposed and visible. So we designed the overall layout of equipment ducts and pipes and the way they pass through glass panels.
Given specific size and location requirements for the offices, it was difficult to align the new partitions with the original structure. To solve that, we turned to the existing strip windows on the facade and took advantage of its horizontal extension. By making the window frames dark brown, we somehow managed to dissolve this mis-match between interior partition and exterior structure under the horizontally-manifested eaves. Additionally, solid bricks above the lintel were replaced with glass bricks to bring in more light and emphasize the original structural pattern. Apart from that, we enlarged the posts and added diagonal bracings to reinforce the existing structure as required.
▼保持上部连续的4号楼办公单元，Building #4: an interior view showing partitioned office units stay connected from above
▼4号楼办公单元，窗过梁以上的实墙全部替换为玻璃砖，让室内明亮起来，building#4: solid bricks above the lintel were replaced with glass bricks to bring in more light and emphasize the original structural pattern
▼自然光照亮的4号楼办公室走廊，Building#4: a corridor between office units, imbued with natural light
Building no.5 originally had two floors, with the lower one being 9.9 m high and the upper one 5.7 m. Again we divided the lower part into two levels measuring 5.3 m and 4.6 m each to rent out. On the upper floor, we inserted a mezzanine level at the height of 2.3 m to the six spans on the east, and turned the downstairs into archive rooms for the client and the upstairs into workspace. For the four spans on the west, we reserved their original height for big events and conferences. In order to meet the minimum size requirement for the offices, we extended some floor plates a little bit outward, leading to a more vivid facade with a group of “boxes” protruding externally. Internally, as the ceiling height reduces, major beams get closer to the eyes. So we uplifted the ceilings of the corridor and incorporated skylight windows to relieve that pressure.Given the underlying change in its programs, the old facade was no longer of use, so we replaced it with a new one that relates to the interior layout while still preserving its original structural order. In doing so, we took a light and flexible approach, similar to that of the Eames Storage Unit, in which a simple structural framework holds a wide range of infill modules, be it drawers, sliding doors, or diagonal bracings. There is a patchwork of solid, void, opaque, transparent, porous, reflective components, each having its own structural or functional logic. We wish to apply the same lightness, functionality and clarity into the new facade that brings all the seemingly random, sporadic, and direct solutions to real issues into an integrity.
This additional space allowed equipment loops throughout the building to be attached to the sides. Consequently, the whole facade undergoes a major change in appearance, partly due to the internal spatial reconfiguration and partly due to its structural reinforcement. As the original single-spanned structure needs to be consolidated to meet the current structural standards, we went through rounds of discussions with our structural consultant, striving to achieve a balance between efficiency, cost and function in terms of specific types and locations of diagonal bracings.
Finally, the two buildings are connected at the office level on the top by a corridor bridge.
▼5号楼公共大厅外阳台，Building #5: looking up towards the balcony outside the lobby
▼5号楼南立面，Building #5: a side view of south elevation
▼5号楼一层南立面，Building #5: part of south façade at ground level
▼从5号楼公共大厅看向城市， view towards the city from the lobby of Building#5
▼从公共大厅看向公园， view to the park from the lobby of Building#5
▼5号楼公共活动室，the multifunctional room of Building#5
▼5号楼公共活动室北侧通道，Building#5: a corridor north of the multifunctional room
▼5号楼办公区走廊天窗，Building#5: a view of the corridor under a strip of skylight windows
▼用于指导施工的大比例结构与设备管线实体模型，a large-scale physical model with structural and equipment details for construction
▼5号楼新加楼板及结构补强，Building#5: under the inserted floorplates with structural reinforcement at ground level
▼5号楼一层扩展部分，Building#5: an extended area at the ground level
▼5号楼新加二层楼板及结构补强，Building#5: a newly-added floor with structural reinforcement
▼结构补强斜撑，a close-up view of diagonal bracing
▼站在5号楼露台看北立面，Building #5: a view toward the north façade from terrace
▼5号楼通向平台的楼梯，Building#5: a staircase leading to the terrace
▼4号楼加建平台，the newly-added terrace of Building #4
▼5号楼办公入口，entrance to the offices of Building#5
▼4号楼与5号楼之间的廊桥，The bridge connecting Building#4 and #5
▼一层平面图，ground floor plan
▼4号楼平面图，building #4 floor plan
▼5号楼平面图，building #5 floor plan
▼4号楼剖面图（场地），building#4 section (site)
▼5号楼剖面图（场地），building#5 section (site)
▼5号楼详图，Building#5 construction detail
project name: jiaotong warehouse renovation
architecture and interior design: genarchitects
architects in charge: xue zhe, fan beilei, kong rui
site: jingan, shanghai
design period: 2017.05-2018.01
construction period: 2017.11-2018.09
project architect: liiuyang
project team: tao shuting, wang shiyu, xian haohui, guo zhenghao
structural consultant: zhang zhun
mep consultant: wan huajun, pan kun, liu jianping
photo credits: chen hao