88 Yuqing Road
Shanghai China

Client: Neri&Hu and Design Republic
Completion Date: Jul 2009
Area: 1,500 square meters


The concept of the "Black Box" is the guiding concept behind the architecture--modeled after the "black box" flight data recorder, it is used symbolically to represent the “storage” of conversation, ideas, thinking and research in the creative studio office. The black box also serves the function of protecting that recording in the event of a crash, fire or tragedy, analogous to the role of a design office servicing as a container of its intellectual production and protection from outside damage. The black box offers poignant, relevant and passionate design ideas with meaning and purpose to clients who may have had to face design tragedies in their lives. The ground floor in the form of a retail store displays some of these designed objects produced in the offices above, rendering it a window into the contents of the black box.

The Black Box is a five-story office building located in the former French Concession, which also includes a street-level storefront space. On the ground level, two wooden facades make up the base of the building, one comprising the new Design Republic store and the other leading up to the Design Republic and NHDRO offices. The gallery and store on the ground level then becomes an extension of the street. Above this glass and wooden exterior, a four-story dark façade is extruded and “cut” to reveal windows into the building.

Within the Design Republic space, the wooden box is pierced to reveal white boxes that frame the main display area. Private offices are contained within glass walls, just like within the original Design Republic office on the Bund. The upper two stories will comprise the Neri&Hu space, which is connected vertically with openings and horizontally with a bridge. The conference room consists of two stacked boxes, a wooden box atop a white box. The room is visible from the upper level through an opening alongside the bridge.