ideas lab in shanghai references vintage subversive technology by x+living

ideas lab in shanghai references vintage subversive technology by x+living

large pipes, spiral staircases and echoes of an industrial period accent the ideas lab, designed by shanghai-based x+living as a place to define the information age. riffing on icons of a time gone by in order to give face to a present one – that’s the idea behind the project which transforms a vintage factory and provides a space for new ideas, whilst helping to remember some old ones too.

all images © shao feng



the studio was inspired in particular by the similarities between the information age of today and the steam age of the past, interested in both their subversive power and contribution to the development of world business. so x+living adjoined the two, using old factory prototypes as the basis for their design, mapping symbols of the previous era and re-using them within a modern framework. the space itself would eventually offer different retail spaces including eating and drinking, and offices for businesses.



whilst inspired by factory settings, the architects cut off the complex parts of those studied, keeping only the ones that could correspond to a new purpose. this included large reaction tanks, energy delivery pipes and walking platforms, all spaces that could be newly defined as research areas, relaxation spaces or routes throughout the lab.



the overall look sees the factory restored using a minimalist approach, where clean and cool concrete depicts the concise and efficient character of the space. meanwhile, desaturated reds offer a dash of colour highlighting and drawing the eye to different areas throughout. using the different levels, x+living has divided the factory into commercial and educational uses, linked by their awareness of one another. whilst the ground space uses the reaction tanks to design new retail spaces, on the second floor, similar components have been restored to provide shared work platforms for research and development staff.



meanwhile energy delivery pipes have been used to conceal elements of the building’s inner-workings, for example air conditioning cables or utility pipelines. elsewhere these tubes define other spaces, such as a dining area which uses the pipeline as a kind of marking in the floor plan.



project info:


design director: li xiang
design team: fan chen, yan xiafei, chen xue
photographer: shao feng
developer: powerlong group
design company: x+living
project type: new retail commerce + shared office
area: 1100㎡
location: shanghai, china
completion time: 01.08.2018

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