The cafe is located on side of Yongjia Road, in the former French concession in Shanghai. On the other side of the road, there is a 1928 built German heritage castle which has wall surface with fine sand mixed pebble and a tower with steep roof. It used to be Ziwen Song's residence and now serves as a centre for the elderly.
This old building on our site was initially a garage of community. The function had been changed as a shop in not long time ago. The garage was a masonry-concrete building with two separated rooms and two big doors for vehicles respectively towards the road. The previous shop only made an addition of two windows facing the inner courtyard. As the reason that the ownership of inner courtyard belongs to other property, windows were blocked by them from the outside. The interior space is usually dark and wet because of the depth of the building. It is uncomfortable to stay even in good weather, not to mention the continuous rainy season in Shanghai.
We had reached a consensus in the very beginning, that the design is no need for “gaining attentions” by the public in this beautiful environment. It can be physically as simple as a small pavilion just only to guarantee a basic need. In atmosphere, it can be integrated into the scene of daily life and naturally invites people come and stay, chat and relax. People in here can capture the precious sunlight during a long season of emotional weather, also they will be more aware of appreciating the pleasant surrounding environment.
Our renovation was started in the reason of repairing its leakage problem, thus the height restriction should be consistent with the old building. We firstly combined two garage rooms into one, and demolished the flat concrete roof with only 2.2m clear height. A pitched roof with wood structure and a glass roof covered instead. Also we demolished the solid wall along the road and made this facade open. In this way, space visually extend vertically and horizontally, also sunlight are more invited into the building. The site is not regular rectangle, which gives us the opportunity to free up some space to the public. This also helped to ease the tension of boundary between the building and the road. The roof is laid with red flat tiles and tiles stepped on the cornice to follow the oblique outline. The window opening towards the inner courtyard was reshaped into a vertical one decorated with red brick, which echoes the German castle across the road.