MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office

MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office

qing dynasty post office, now a dynamic community hub 

 

Chinese architecture and interior design practice More Design Office (MDO) has completed the renovation of the historical Qing Dynasty Post Office in Shanghai, transforming it into a dynamic and rich community social hub. The studio’s approach combines careful and tasteful renovation techniques with modern upgrades to create a work and gathering space that celebrates the tradition of information sharing while bringing the history of the postal service to life for the new generation. 

MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office
all images © Pianfang Studio

 

 

Commissioned by the local Qingpu government, MDO’s objective was to showcase the post office’s history to both the community and the growing number of tourists visiting Zhujiajiao, drawn by its traditional architecture and picturesque waterways. ‘Our design approach centered around information sharing, resulting in a waterfront café, a versatile hall for community events, and a multifunctional gallery. Permanent exhibits, featuring the post office’s rich history, are thoughtfully presented through physical and digital media,’ writes the practice

MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office
renovation of the historical Qing Dynasty Post Office in Shanghai

 

 

mdo uplifts the post office’s intricate, historical structure

 

The existing building, an exemplary Qing Dynasty architecture, underwent meticulous restoration by removing modern additions and restoring it to its original form of brickwork, timber structure, and tile. To distinguish new elements from the old, carefully curated objects were inserted into this historical context, allowing visitors to appreciate the contrast and evolution of the space. The stair and shelves were crafted with a color palette inspired by the local fabric’s ‘Qingpu blue’ and the distinctive ‘green water’ of the water transport post office, paying homage to the building’s heritage.

 

This project addresses China’s challenges in preserving its past while embracing the future. More specifically, Shanghai’s rapid development has often resulted in demolishing historic urban areas, leaving cultural heritage overshadowed by commercial interests. However, MDO’s approach in Zhujiajiao is different. The design team recognized the vibrant community’s living heritage and aimed to transform the post office into a dynamic space that celebrates its history and serves as a hub for exchanging ideas. In doing so, it respects the building’s original architecture and its story, evident in the intricate roof, the timeworn bronze letter box, and the distinctive clay brick wall. Meanwhile, modern elements pop up in the space to pay homage to history, such as shelves supported by black ‘feet,’ reminiscent of the postmen who traversed towns with vital information.

MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office
creating a dynamic and rich community hub

 

 

At the heart of MDO’s ‘sensitive’ renovation approach is the judicious use of existing and new resources. The team maximized the reuse of the original structure, namely walls, floors, windows, doors, roofs, and veranda. Moreover, recycled materials played a crucial role in the project, including locally-made terrazzo for the stairs and ground floor finish and lino flooring made from natural, rapidly renewable materials. Existing exposed walls and roof tiles were carefully cleaned and repaired, preserving their authentic character.

 

Energy efficiency was another priority in the Qing Dynasty Post Office re-design, with eco-lighting employed throughout the building. The riverside facade, which also serves as a solar control screen, provides cross ventilation and naturally cooling interior spaces. Although air conditioning is necessary in Shanghai, its use is limited due to the thermal mass of the existing structure combined with the building’s natural ventilation and solar control methods.

MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office
restoring it to its original form of brickwork, timber structure, and tile

 

 

benefitting the community 

 

Beyond the architectural achievements, the community greatly benefits from the gallery, lecture space, and café, which provide valuable local resources. The project also emphasizes community engagement by employing knowledgeable residents who share the post office’s history with visitors, fostering a sense of pride and connection. ‘Our renovation of the canal side Qing Dynasty Post Office is a testament to the successful preservation and transformation of historical architecture. By striking a balance between honoring the past and embracing the future, we have created a vibrant community space that brings people together, fosters cultural exchange, and ensures the rich history of the postal service continues to thrive for generations to come,’ concludes More Design Office.

MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office
amphitheater-like gathering space

MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office
using locally-made terrazzo for the stairs

qing-dynasty-post-office-renovation-designboom-full

MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office
multifunctional gallery

MDO brings careful renovation + modern upgrades to shanghai's qing dynasty post office
the building exemplifies Qing Dynasty architecture

qing-dynasty-post-office-renovation-designboom-full-1

 

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recalling the distinctive green water of the water transport post office
recalling the distinctive green water of the water transport post office
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where modern and traditional elements collide
where modern and traditional elements collide
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using energy-efficient lighting throughout the building
using energy-efficient lighting throughout the building
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this project addresses China's challenges in preserving heritage buildings
this project addresses China's challenges in preserving heritage buildings
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using recycled and renewable materials throughout
using recycled and renewable materials throughout

project info:

 

name: Qing Dynasty Post Office Renovation

location: Shanghai, China

area: 188 sqm 

design: More Design Office (MDO) 

directors: Justin Bridgland, Jaycee Chui

completion date: January 2023 

photography: Pianfang Studio

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