MARS architects designed a gallery in the basement of an apartment building in downtown shanghai, that defies the white cube standard, opening up the city to a world of underground potential. the aim was to create a space that brings people to a complete abstract world losing every sense of scale.

going underground 1
all images courtesy of MARS architects
mirrors break up the narrow ramp to the underground gallery



MARS architects removed the edges of the space in order to create an area with the feeling of infinity, taking away the sense of scale and dimensions. the designers could not change the existing compartmentalized layout, they could only add spaces rather than subtract—something they found quite challenging. they used mirrors and pink neon lights to shock the senses into accepting a new reality. the chamfered-edged spaces produce a comfortable distortion making the rooms seem larger.

going underground 2
rather than the traditional white box, the mint green walls and chamfered edges create a soft interior



the designers wanted nothing in the space to distract the viewers from the artwork so the sense of infinity they created presents the art as if it’s floating. the many pipes and irregularities of a basement are boxed in with translucent cabinets that offset the soft bubbles of the exhibitions. the designers believe in intensifying the metropolis and finding opportunities to create new spaces where there really seems to be no room for new functional areas.



going underground 3
concrete molded chamfered corners create an edgeless, infinite space

going underground 4
the rectangular cabinets offset the soft bubbles of the exhibition spaces

going underground 5
a modular aluminum frame responds to all the pipes and irregularities of this housing block basement in downtown shanghai



going underground 6
small windows bring much-needed light without distracting from the abstract surroundings

going underground 7
the exhibits unfold in seven bubble spaces of different sizes

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the curve creates a natural distance from the artworks

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against the edgeless background, the art seems suspended in a virtual space

going underground 10
the opening show presents some of the research of MARS architects into the need to densify, and the beauty of an intricate urbanity



project info:


name: studio gallery shanghai

designer: MARS architects

location: shanghai, china


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: yasmina karam | designboom