Architecture is not simply about space and form, but also about event, action and what happens in space.
In the summer of 2021, Topos Design Studio designed the WAT’s first cocktail composite concept store in Shanghai for this brand which is the international wine competition gold medalist, introducing a green urban jungle where people can drink anywhere and anytime to the magic city, Shanghai.
▲折叠窗GIF GIF of the folding window
向上海学习 LEARNING FROM SHANGHAI
In early 2021, the WAT team chose Shanghai as their first goal to enter the mainland market, and Topos Design was invited to design their first physical store in Shanghai. The WAT comes from its homophonic words “WHAT!” which symbolize the new attempt to break the rules of the mixed drink. “There is only one real world, but imagination is boundless.” Our design concept coincidences with WAT’s and this is just the best beginning of the story.
▲外观细节 details of the appearance
我们在设计之初深度参与了首店的选址。在连续否定了几处在传统商业逻辑下的热点地段后，我们最终选择了位于上海市静安区巨鹿路758号的MORE THAN EAT（以下简称MTE）。《外滩画报》在2014年的专稿中提出了巨富长街区的概念，巨富长已经成为了上海最有活力的街区之一。MTE是巨富长曾经的荣耀，一个汇聚了世界各地小食的集合餐饮空间，“餐饮+”的运营模式已经成为了街区的独特记忆。中国的城市更新瞬息万变，上海更不例外：巨富长常在，而MTE日渐衰老，她需要新的内容和事件。
We were deeply involved in the site selection of the first store at the beginning of the design process. After successively rejecting several hot spots under traditional business logic, we finally chose More Than Eat (hereinafter referred to as MTE) which is located at No. 758 Julu Road, Jing ‘an District, Shanghai. The Bund magazine put forward the concept of Jufuchang Block in their 2014 feature, and now this block has become one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Shanghai. At the same time, MTE was the former glory of the block. It is a catering space which gathers snacks from all over the world. What’s more, its operation mode of “catering +” has become the unique memory of this block. Due to the fast-changing urban renewal in China, although the Jufuchang Block still exists, MTE is aging and it is very important to introduce new content and events to it.
▲项目区位 site plan
▲图解 diagram of Julu Road
▲图解 diagram of MTE
Since the founding of Topos Design, we have organized teams to visit streets in a planned way every year. We are passionate about measuring and experiencing different sizes of neighborhoods of Shanghai through walking and cycling. In keeping with the spirit of urbanism proclaimed by Venturi in “Learning from Las Vegas,” we need to learn from this great city, Shanghai. The gap between high-rise buildings is opportunities and challenges for young architects. Through the narrative reconstruction of old buildings and new Spaces, we hope to elegantly intervene in the space-time fabric of the city with the design which is full of the spirit of The Times.
Therefore, in the first WAT store located on Julu Road, we plan to use a minimalist spatial narrative to inject great vitality into the tiny volume.
形式追随幻想 FORM FOLLOWS FICTION
The site is located at the southeast corner of MTE. Although it is along the street, there is no independent entrance along the street. The boundary of the site creates a rectangular space of 8 meters long, 5 meters wide, 4 meters high and 160 cubic meters in volume. In this small square box, we redefined boundaries, scale and function, and created a green jungle which is full of the spirit of urbanism with restrained but balanced design.
▲主入口 the main entrance
▲体块生成GIF generation of the volume GIF
▲入口灯箱 entrance light box
▲入口看向窗外 looking out from the entrance
▲旋转吧台 rotary bar
The boundary is made to be broken. We used different opening strategies on the four sides of the box. Stripped of decoration, the architectural structure of the site is composed of four T-shaped columns, which is a kind of the cross-symmetrical spatial structure. First of all, we designed two functional walls on the north and south sides, which are accurate to centimetres, with various refrigeration equipment, strong and weak electrical panels as well as extreme storage space concealed in a delicate way. Two parallel functional walls enclose a hollow box that connects the east and the west, allowing people to freely enter and leave MTE. On the north side, along the inner street, we only left a small opening in the inner area of the bar. Besides, horizontal refrigerator was used to increase the operating surface and display products, which also became a window to interact with visitors in the inner street of MTE. On the south side, along the street surface, we transformed the original sliding Windows into folding Windows, blurring the sense of boundary between indoor and outdoor space, and conversing with the city streets. The extended windowsill serves as MTE’s memory of the site and becomes a long bar for indoor as well as outdoor space.
▲入口看向冰箱 Looking at the refrigerator from the entrance
▲旋转吧台看向窗外 looking out from the rotary bar
Everything about the materials, lighting and signage was designed to be just right clear. Although the square box is abstract and conceptual, the cover of jungle green terrazzo gives the square box a warm and moist texture, making it full of oxygen and makes the box a metaphor for a green urban jungle. The insertion of the snowflake galvanized sheet suggests the design of the opening, confirming the existence of the hole as the second level of space. Semicylindrical custom-made acrylic light boxes appear in sequence above each opening and reinforce the functionality of the opening with straight signs. In addition, the first WAT store in Shanghai will be a retail store during the day and a bar at night. Therefore, in order to meet the different operating modes, we equipped the space with surround sound hanging sound system and the lighting system with adjustable illumination level.
▲座位区 seating area
“Get the bar moving!” This was the curious inspiration of WAT founder Royal. If form depends on basic skills, fiction requires imagination. Refusing to sit up, and how to drink anywhere and anytime, we have to redefine the bar. With a width of 5 meters, we arbitrarily arranged a 1.2-meter wide island bar with built-in rotating caterpillar, allowing customers to see the different flavors of WAT cocktail bottles in an unprecedented way. Tasting while standing is a drinking gesture as well as an attitude. The 1.2 meter high floating central island bar is surrounded by a 30-centimeter-wide table, where people can lean on, play with empty small square bottles, chat with friends and smile at strangers. A group of LED display devices are suspended directly above the bar. The running lights play “SOOOO WAT” in a circular way, which becomes a kind of the visual output of the brand and presets infinite possibilities for future content.
▲MTE内沿街面 the inner street of MTE
▲连接MTE的窗口 indoor window
The WAT store in Shanghai is not just a retail or a bar, but a social center for youth and freedom. “The green urban jungle, a beverage shop for adults, an amusement park for drinking” is depicted by different media and individuals, which is exactly the declaration of French architect Tschumi in Manuscript of Manhattan： “Architecture is not simply about space and form, but also about events, activities and what happens in space.”
▲旋转吧台 rotary bar
流动的盛宴 A MOVEABLE FEAST
On July 16th, the first WAT store in Shanghai was officially opened. My team and I gathered together in this green jungle with less than 50 square meters to drink. Looking at the endless rotating bar, more and more cubes of ice and color flowing in the bottles and cups, listening to the soft background music, the laughter of the crowd and the sound of traffic from Julu Road, facing the familiar Shanghai becomes so vivid, I started thinking： what does architecture mean to me? Just the present flowing feast!
Anywhere, anytime, drinking!
项目设计 & 完成年份：2021.01至2021.07
Project name：GREEN URBAN JUNGLE / WAT, the First-ever Store in Shanghai
Design year & Completion Year：2021.01 to 2021.07
Principle Architect：LIN Chen
Project Architect：FENG Zixiang
Design Team：WANG Lei，XU Zijie,WANG Bihu
Project location：Shanghai, China
Gross Built Area (square meters)：42m²
Photo credits：ZHU Runzi
The construction side：Shanghai JIANYUAN Decoration
Materials：Terrazzo，galvanized sheet，stainless steel，acrylic plate