Laurel Restaurant in Shanghai

Shanghai, China
Nacasa&Partners inc.

A new town of 24,000 people is presently being constructed in the suburbs of Shanghai. The urban planner is Vittorio Gregotti of Milan. This restaurant was planned as a component of the central urban complex, also designed by Gregotti. The interior concept was conceived by Alan Chan of Hong Kong. Thus, in a new town in a suburb of Shanghai, in an urban plan that is the product of contemporary Italy, a designer from Hong Kong came up with a concept, and a Japanese architect designed a “Chinese” restaurant. Given such circumstances, Shanghai seems to be the very embodiment of the multi-national city.
The concept of the interior is a “Chinese Landscape.” On display is the work of the Southern painter Tsi Tao, portraying images of the 16th century. Alan’s plan for the nearly 1000 m2 interior was to recreate the feeling of Tao’s work in three dimensions, thus almost creating another building within the main structure itself.
Looking up within the main dining hall, a complex of private rooms (recalling “small mountain villas”) floats in the air, while a skylight in the ceiling “represents” the sun or the moon. In order to engage areas of outdoor space, we opened the three meter-diameter skylight to the roof, which had already been completed. For the same reason, in creating the space for the bar, we installed a glass roof above the courtyard that Gregotti had designed, and installed a lotus pond.
It was somewhat surprising that we were able to realize our design visions so thoroughly, given that the building itself had already been completed.

Perhaps present-day Shanghai is more exciting than even Tokyo was during the heady days of the economic bubble. Quite simply, this is the kind of project that can only be realized in such a city at such a time.