Eight Tenths Garden Museum in Shanghai

An enamelware factory becomes a museum and cultural center.
25 April, 2017
The Eight Tenths Garden site in Shanghai tells many stories that fuse the past with the present – some of them a bit mysterious.
The Wutopia Lab architects, a team led by founder Yu Ting, say their client was the last manager of a now-defunct enamelware factory which they have turned into a museum dedicated to arts and crafts (including enamel pieces). Yet the rebirth of the old factory has now brought the owner's son home from Milan, to launch a modern line of enamel goods from offices atop the museum tower.

Between the enterprises of father and son lies the vision to create the museum, along with gardens modeled on the 1970s era of Shanghai and open to the public. The facility features a library, coffee shop and restaurant, along with other less-common features. There are rooms for study and for playing chess, and the entire fourth floor has been converted into a bed and breakfast marked by an elegant restraint.
Images: Dezeen
Originally, the building was a sales center on a triangular street corner with a four-story circular hall perched on it. The angles and juxtaposition of the neighborhood's geometric patterns are intriguing in and of themselves, but when the architects envisioned the project, chief among their concerns was how to integrate the museum complex into that community mix of shops and street.

The architects chose pleated aluminium screening for the exterior cladding that helped to achieve that goal. "We use perforated aluminum plates in the folding fan style to create a veil on the façade," they explained. "This veil is not the climate border, it has a glass curtain wall, a yard as well as a balcony behind. We created a blur between the facade and the climate border."
They also created smooth integration between the building and the surrounding gardens, a design priority capped off with a rooftop garden atop the circular structure and within the cylindrical wall that connects the built edifice with its natural surroundings. At the same time, the perforated aluminium pleats conceal air conditioning systems, pipes and other features of the building from the exterior.

The circle within the triangle also creates opportunity for unique approaches to the building, such as the low bridges that span a pond at the base of the building and connect pedestrians to the ground-floor entrances. Lighting fixtures placed among the landscaping stones at the pond's edge correspond with the illumination of the first-floor interior, adding another point of continuity between the two spaces.
Images: Dezeen and Metalocus
Ultimately, however, Wutopia Lab stayed mindful of their client's vision for an enamelware museum. Much of the space in the 2,000 square meter building is dedicated to the artisanal craft of former generations, including an expansive two-story exhibit space within the circular tower. There, the walls are lined with display shelving and gallery space that celebrates Chinese art and the enamel craft, within the play of light and shadow made possible by the sunlight passing through the perforated aluminium.

As the building transitions into its other multipurpose spaces, it reflects the architectural vision. "We do not want the obsessive minimalism, nor do we want an exaggerated scene which lacks of connections," the designers said. "We used antithesis to unfold the space."
Image: Dezeen
The garden reflects complexity, but simplicity is the goal inside. Yet even that sense of simplicity has different expressions, whether in the museum, bed and breakfast suites, chess-playing room – or in the third-floor office, where the Chinese father's son reconnects with Shanghai tradition for a new generation.
Banner image: Dezeen