No. 399 Renmin Road, Huangpu District has been the location of Fudu Commercial Building for less than a decade. Now the building has a new name: the Bund NEO. Fudu Commercial Building was built in 2009 with the north gate facing Renmin Road and opposite to Shanghai Tan Mall while Fumin Street and Anping Street lies on the west and south respectively. There are at least 3 or 4 commercial buildings which are Yueyuan Commercial Building, Fuyou Commercial Building, Fumin Mall and Fumin small commodity wholesales markets across the street. From here you can look out over the city park to the east, while two blocks south is the Yu Garden.
From the business patterns of the surrounding places, a glimpse of the old Fudu Commercial Building could been discovered that it was originally a small commodity market just as others, it played a part in the Yu Garden Commercial Circle where Shanghainese could go and buy small stuff whenever mentioned in old times.
Walking from the Bund to the Yu Garden, passing the new office building area, crossing Renmin Road, you will then arrive at the old Fudu Commercial Building. Renmin Road is a special road that from historical sight, the city wall of Shanghai was first built in the Ming Dynasty. In 1912 Shanghai County began to demolish the old city and fill in the city trenches which later became Renmin Road and Zhonghua Road. The two roads enclose the old city and with the No. 11 Tram running around the city, all the stops are named like Old North Gate, Little North Gate, Grand South Gate and Old West Gate, recalling the past memories.
All these suggest that No. 399 Renmin Road is a very special venue for its closeness to both the Bund and the Yu Garden where happen to be merged with the newly built commercial office complexes. Meanwhile, the Yu Garden represents the Chinese traditional and classical gardens which has 400-year history. When the renovation project of Fudu Commercial Building was brought up to the agenda, it was uncertain whether it should be more of a radical strategy or more conservative. The result as seen now turned out that it seems to be a natural process that makes it more in line with a ‘conservative’ strategy.
Maybe it’s not easy to fully understand the real changes about what the building experienced merely from the literal meaning of ‘conservative’. Based on the original appearance of the building, after removing all the decorations and added structures from the surface, the elements that need to be presented and reserved; the connections with the outside world including the identification with the old buildings around and the historical location as well as what it brings to the city leads to the final result . Whether the facade material, the color, the shape of the eaves, or the retreat position shows the active integration with the environment and the city.
It is a process of subtraction to design the new look with less work than the original Fudu Commercial Building. Do not think it is a ‘retro’ work. By observing it, you will understand how modern harmonizes with the old atmosphere. Standing in front of it, it delivers the oncoming aura of the building as a whole rather than fragmented and split single functions before.
From the overall integrity of the building, the canopy on the ground floor maximizes its public feature. It not only serves the function of a canopy, but also provides a place for public activities and expresses a friendly attitude to the remaining small commodity markets around it - although they are no longer as vibrant as they used to be, they still carry a part of the city's vitality, and at the same time testify to its history as Fudu Commercial Building.
The canopy reaches 4 meters at its widest, even exceeding its height of 3.4 meters. It arises from the building, making the entire bottom into a unity that fulfill vivid life scenes. Various stores, entrances to the building and the hotel are underneath the canopy, creating a space that flows between indoors and outdoors in the changing of light. You feel warm in here.
From outside of a building, the interior space and its functions are implicit while its public features are extended from the outside to the inside. A T-shaped public area is placed in, topped by a hanging arrangement of equidistant 40 pieces of wall, which traverses the building in the north-south direction, feels like passing through the gates of the old city. The wall scale is large that allows its original function transcended and the space is used freely that all the functions open to the public are displayed and diversified activities are satisfied.
In public area on the ground floor, there is hotel lobby and restaurant entrance, as well as an office lobby and the commercial lobby. Underneath these pieces of walls, all kinds of demands are given the common openness and a sense of coherence.
In addition, there is a public space on each floor at the same place corresponding to the T-shaped area on the first floor. As to the office area on the second and third floors, it is designed as a core tube as that of the high-rise office building, while as to the hotel area on the fourth to sixth floors it is designed with scattered public corridors. Comfort is an important factor in the design of the whole building that energy efficiency, insulation, ventilation and other aspects are considered according to the standards of a modern renovation.
Renmin Road is just likes a river of time, or a passage leads to the last century. Entering the Bund NEO from its Renmin Road entrance, while the passage overlaps with the T-shaped space where Renmin Road unfolds in layers, leading people to the other side of time and space.
A pocket garden is at the same time designed. Based on the original greening features, Landscape construction approach is used to design the outdoor space. Using the sidewalk of Renmin Road as the entrance, taking the original one-meter height difference between the ground level of the building and the street containing the bus stop into consideration, integrating the whole outside elements and contribute them back to the city so that people could get the experience of rest, sightseeing, viewing and interaction in this lively space.
Both people waiting for buses and walking by can enter the garden easily that creates an interconnection between the different height levels in a dynamic line. The highest part of the garden can be used as a place for merchants’ events. The greenery serves as barrier but also connects to the street and the crowd. The side facing Fumin Street has seats for stay and feel the lively atmosphere of a small city street. While blending into the urban context, the building has its own environment.
The Bund NEO combs the relationship from city to local, and the relationship between people and city in its own way. It fits in the city background and it is vividly alive between the streets.