No lesser figure than General Chiang Kai-Shek is responsible for this site. Back in the 1930’s, he commandeered a suburban quarry, from which the British had extracted granite to build the city’s famed riverfront Bund, then ordered the construction of a bunker to safeguard both military equipment and cultural treasures. Today’s visitors encounter a vastly changed scenario. After entering a botanical garden and walking through a modest wooden gate, they descend to a subterranean realm. The 32,000-square-foot venue combines commercial functions with museum-style displays devoted to oenophile culture and viticulture.
One long vaulted space stayed in its existing state, essentially empty except for the candles illuminating the bunker’s concrete niches. “We use that as a way to explain the history,” partner Kyle Mertensmeyer explains. Elsewhere, architectural installations are designed to be easily dismantled without damaging the historic surroundings. Oak wine barrels serve as pedestals for glass vitrines. On the ceiling above a counter employed as both a tasting bar and a point-of-sale, Mertensmeyer massed crates that once contained bottles of Château Malmaison into a sculptural swoosh—all without assistance from digital design tools. A separate VIP cellar is a cylinder 8 feet across. It’s ringed by bottles up-lit by LEDs and capped by a mirrored ceiling, providing a selfie-magnet that’s practically irresistible.
Project Team: Yin Li Xue, Iris Qiu, Kelton Spresser.