China’s commercial capital is, in a sense, the world’s largest adaptive reuse challenge. With the cityscape transforming at an unprecedented rate, the old can survive only by serving the new—as proved by a cluster of 1950’s buildings. Interior Design Hall of Fame members Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown have combined the four structures into a three-story, 21,500-square-foot center providing children’s educational programs and health and family services in a variety of private and shared spaces.
A restaurant and bar, supplied in part by a rooftop farm, nourish the body. A maple-floored yoga studio with crisscrossing roof beams offers the chance to pause, stretch, and reflect. Respect for humble materials is apparent in pendant fixtures’ shades wrapped in handwoven burlap, sourced at a flea market, and the fieldstone of the fireplace.
“Everything fosters communality among users,” Tsao says. That’s his goal not only as an architect but also in his new role as the creative director of Octave, the socially conscious real-estate concern that developed this center. He and his brother founded the company to create walkable, mixed-use alternatives to China’s rampant urbanization. Next up, scheduled to open in 2016 in Suzhou, is the Sangha, a lakeside enclave mixing hospitality with residences, a greenmarket, and a medical clinic.
Project Team: Richard Rhodes; Justin Scurlock.