Shanghai Mings Café Renovation

Dynamize a property for the summer enjoyment of Shanghainese

The project aims to restore and refurbish Mings Café, a building located in the outskirts of Shanghai. To take advantage of its exceptional location –facing a lake and embraced by nature–, the owner decided to revitalize the venue through the application of a new design concept.

In June 2015, Urbensis got commissioned to explore the renovation strategy that would redefine this building’s identity. Our tasks covered from interior refurbishment to the redesign of outdoor areas such as the terrace, the façade and the surrounding landscape.

Regarding the façade, some of the wooden battens on floors and the façade itself were damaged. We proposed to replace the damaged ones with natural color pinewood, decision that later extended to the flooring areas. The lower part of the façade was using decorative stones as a finishing material.

We removed them to leave the concrete wall completely visible after restoration through an anti-carbonation process. This process also prevents future damage to the concrete wall in case of contact with the water of the lake.

We also replaced the existing outdoor installations –handrail and multiple canopies–, with a light textile structure that makes the lakefront area more welcoming and enjoyable. This gives a soft and elegant touch to the building while offsetting the hard appearance given by materials such as stone and steel. In addition, the current terrace has been extended a few steps towards the lake, offering a relaxing outdoor lounge area that connects customers with nature, under the comfortable shadow produced by tailor-made canopies.

Regarding interiors, the kitchen was enlarged and reshaped to create an optimized workspace that better fits the layout of the coffee bar area. The interior has two floors. The first floor is divided into three sitting areas: two of them for coffee and tea, and two private rooms for group dinners. The underground floor was completely refurbished, eliminating all vertical partitions to create a visually open space divided into different atmospheres brought by new furniture arrangements.

In general terms, the building remains classy while tuned in with modern demands, making it more connected with nature and outdoor activities.

The finishes and materials were chosen to match a formal and contemporary look, while also erasing the nostalgic appearance of ages past.