The Yu Hotel in Shanghai integrates culture, nature and architecture

This project is located on East Fuxing Road in Shanghai, China, which sits next to the Yu Garden, thus being named “Yu Hotel”. It was originally an old hostel/chess & card room. With the changes of times and urban renewal, the owner wanted to deconstruct the new meaning of B&B on the basis of reinforcing the existing structure.

The old hostel was comprised of four old buildings that were narrow and small with inadequate lighting on the inside. The key of the renovation project is spatial restructuring and bringing sunlight and nature to the interior space that used to be narrow and dark to begin with. After more than half a year, Shanghai Ben Zhe Architecture Design have deconstructed and turned the old place into the complex whose interior is connected with the exterior and with a courtyard interspaced in between.

The renovated Yu Hotel consists of two buildings. The relations among culture, nature and architecture were sorted out during the design process for the purpose of integrating them together. At the entrance there is the roundabout wall built with black bricks that serves as transition between the openness and privacy of the space. By referencing to the characteristics of quadrangle dwellings and courtyards in the north of Shanghai, the designers took bold steps to squeeze in a yard in the center of Shanghai where land is scarce and expensive, managing to bring the buildings that used to be isolated from each other together and made the guest rooms, lobby and café visually echo with one another at a distance. The introduction of the yard reflects the idea of gardening in traditional buildings.

The guest rooms are in the south-facing main building. The different functions of the space inside the building are cleverly arranged and fit like a glove. The atrium perfectly brings the space in the corridor, terrace and the backyard together to achieve maximum openness of sight and space. The glass skylight ensures that the common area in the guest room is filled with light, which has totally changed the old rooms that used to be dim and shadowy. The staircase made of copper and solid wood serves the role of connecting the floors upstairs and downstairs. With the sunlight shining through the skylight, onto the white walls above stairs and hitting the terrazzo floor downstairs through the elevated glass trail in the atrium, the entire space becomes coherent.

The designers believe that the highlight of the B&B is in its details. The beauty of the Yu Hotel is reflected in the thought it has been put into the place and the attention it has been paid to details. Having a complete and independent aesthetic concept of their own, the designers even picked out the bibelots themselves  and gave all twelve guest rooms their own names: Chun, Yuan, Lan, Run, You, Han, Dan, Chan, Fu, Tian, Man and Zi. Every room has its own style and story.

As per the rigid demand of urban B&Bs, two large loft spring-layer rooms called “Run” and “Lan” were built into the Yu Hotel. Having taken advantage of the upper space, the two 55 m2 rooms are divided into two floors to leave enough room downstairs for various facilities: e.g. open bathing space, recreational reception area, etc. The space upstairs is the rest area so as to separate the places for work, recreation and rest apart to ensure the guests’ privacy.

The main tone of the room “Chun” is neo-Chinese style. It got the name “Chun” for it’s plainness and simplicity. The large French window in the room allows the guests to see the small, green world in peace without disturbing the living creatures in the yard. It’s a place that’s right next to, yet hidden in the crowded downtown.

During the design process of the neo-Chinese style, techniques of simplification were employed to show the connotation of traditional Chinese culture. Mirrors in ancient times were made of bronze or iron. Nowadays designers like to combine copper that has not been over processed with round mirror planes. A place where a simple dressing table meets a big ceramic bathtub, wood meets iron, chunky bronze mirrors meet glazed glass windows and modern facilities meet unique design, this is what Yu Hotel is all about.







Design and info © Shanghai Ben Zhe Architecture Design

Images © Xuanmin Jin


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