While working on turnkey project in India, I often did site visits to supervise the construction work. I have come to the realization that the imperfections in a design project, sometimes make it perfect! Just leave that concrete wall unfinished and match the rest of the design elements with it. We call it ‘Dirty Chic‘!

I’d like to share one such wonderful project called ‘Waterhouse’ by Neri & Hu Designs. The Waterhouse is a boutique hotel in Shanghai consisting of 19 beautiful rooms. The four storey hotel in built in an existing three-story 1930’s Japanese Army headquarters building. A four storey hotel in a three storey building? You must be thinking how that could be possible. But, yes it’s made possible by the designers by restoring the old concrete building and construction an additional floor which is made from materials like Cor-Ten steel and wood. The blend of old and new is not only commendable, but also provides an analogous contextual link to both history and local culture.

The interiors have been designed to provide a five star living experience to the visitors, yet keeping the industrial warehouse look & feel intact. The public spaces enable one to get a glance of private rooms while the rooms invite one to look out at the public arenas, such as the large vertical room window above the reception desk and the corridor windows overlooking the dining room. Living at the ‘Waterhouse’ definitely gives the guests an opportunity to get an overview of Shanghai’s urban condition with highrise buildings in steel & glass while sipping on a cup of coffee overlooking the Huangpu River.

Photographs by Pedro Pegenaute, Tuomas Uusheimo & Derryck Menere

+ Neri & Hu Design

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