KCA/Kostas Chatzigiannis Architecture Transforms Historic Shanghai Building into Modern Coworking Space

The design of Paper is centered around a spiral origami-inspired handrail that folds around the main staircase, starting from the bottom steps. Photography by Derryck Menere. 

When it comes to designing youthful spaces with a sophisticated edge, KCA/Kostas Chatzigiannis Architecture manages to strike the perfect balance. After completing a millennial-focused home-furnishing boutique in Shanghai earlier this year, Kostas Chatzigiannis, founder and principal, set out to design an environment that appealed to a similar demographic—this time working with a historic building. Tasked with creating modern coworking space Paper, Chatzigiannis focused on updating two existing structures—the one at the back of the building is newer, from the 80s—from the outside in, accounting for plenty of natural light. The resulting facade offers a new take on the architectural street fronts seen throughout Shanghai's French Concession neighborhood, complete with large openings that allow passers-by to peek inside.

As a vibrant, multi-use space, the Paper locale goes beyond coworking, housing showrooms for international brands as well as venues for food and drinks. Chatzigiannis, taking inspiration from the brand's name, centered the design around a spiral origami-shaped handrail crafted from metal slates, which envelopes the main staircase. Though the metal slates were "very heavy and hard to install on the concrete steps," as Chatzigiannis notes, their folds "appear to be effortless." The stair's spacious landings offer views of the artwork throughout, as well as the back garden, which serves as a prime gathering space. With plenty of quirky details throughout, from geometric wall patterns to brightly-tiled washrooms, Paper invites play back into the workplace. 

The facade of the building. Photography by Derryck Menere. 
Paper features plenty of natural light and inviting nooks for quiet work or collaboration. Photography by Derryck Menere. 
A restaurant and café sit behind the reception area on the ground floor while the upper floors house offices and showrooms, which overlook the garden patio. Photography by Derryck Menere. 
Vibrant colors punctuate the space, offering a contrast to the building's original details. Photography by Derryck Menere. 
The interior walls feature eye-catching geometric patterns. Photography by Derryck Menere. 
Wood beams overhead offer a contrast to the modern furnishings in this lounge area. Photography by Derryck Menere. 
Standard bathroom tiles are used in unexpected ways to bring a touch of lightness to the work environment. Photography by Derryck Menere. 

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