The entrepreneurial city of Shanghai recently welcomed its first WeWork coworking space—and it’s a beaut. Centrally located in Jing’An district above the farm-to-table Hunter Gatherer restaurant, WeWork Yanping Lu weaves elements of the site’s history into its design, from its laneway house-inspired appearance to the use of locally salvaged materials. Local architecture firm Linehouse led the design of the light-filled two-story space, completed this year.
Despite its cosmopolitan appearance, Shanghai still retains much of its historic architecture. Longtang (弄堂), or alleyways, are a major part of the urban fabric and refer to the community of homes grouped along an alley. Linehouse references the site’s history as a former neighborhood of longtangs with sectionally cut house-like structures. A gabled skeleton layered with light-filtering polycarbonate panels frames the interior’s central alley-like space. The house-like structure repeats itself in the seating areas, pantry, and reception with white-and-blue metal bars.
Salvaged TVs and radios—objects commonly found in Shanghai’s laneways—were upcycled into a funky reception desk. An open shelving unit made of rebar, in addition to the metal framing and e-waste desk, inserts an industrial vibe to WeWork Yanping Lu that’s tempered by timber floors and furnishings that add a touch of warmth. A giant blue-tinted fish tank enlivens the space. The restrained use of polycarbonate, timber, and metal materials ensures a clean backdrop for the addition of custom graphics without fear of visual clutter.
“Inspired by Shanghai’s White Rabbit candy, a motif of rabbit wallpapers and artwork was developed,” write the architects. “Meeting room wallpapers take reference from common Chinese games played in the laneways; Chinese chess and tangram. Motifs often seen in the streets of Shanghai are stamped throughout the public seating areas, playing on Chinese and English words encapsulating the community spirit of WeWork.” WeWork Yanping Lu is open 24/7 with two floors and around 500 seats.
Images via Linehouse, © Dirk Weiblen