|SQ. FT.||55,000 SQF|
Old is new again at this playful project by Briar Hickling and Alek Mok. The firm they co-founded has taken a 100-year-old redbrick mansion—which subsequently served as an opium factory, an ammunitions warehouse, and, more recently, artists’ studios—and completely revamped the place at the behest of the new Chinese arm of the U.S. coworking and real-estate giant. The rather British-style building, in a residential enclave of “lane houses,” is entered through a stone archway. Hickling and Mok’s redesign therefore references the city’s era of European concessions. “Shanghai was embracing a mix then,” Mok says. Hickling adds, “It was East and West, fashion and art.”
In that spirit, whimsical moderne-inspired details include the meeting rooms’ pastel-colored geometric wallpaper, gilded by hand, and the polychrome striped terrazzo of the atrium. Formed by enclosing a courtyard to bring total square footage to 55,000, the triple-height atrium exudes the air of the lobby of a grand hotel. The atrium bar serves up coffee and tea, beer in the evenings. (For snacks and more substantial fare, a pair of pantries are found in an addition.) Audaciously snaking through the atrium, a staircase features balustrades painted multiple shades of green and blue for an optical gradient effect. The stair enhances connection between the levels, adding to the feeling of community among freelancers and start-ups.