Sotto Sotto by
HRC Design Works

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Architecture and design studio HRC Design Works has transformed an ageing warehouse beside the HuangPu River in Shanghai into a leisure and shopping destination with a plant-covered cafe and a cave-like shoe store.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

Sotto Sotto is positioned beside the old dock in the South Bund district and HRC Design Works designed the building as an attraction that would bring new visitors to the area whilst respecting the history of the converted building.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

The architects used raw materials such as stone, copper and unfinished wood to make connections with nature in each space, as well as to respect the existing structure. "We'd rather have pure original structure than style," they explain.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

The new spaces include shops, cafes and wine bars, as well as a cigar lounge and reception area.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

HRC Design Works founded their studio in Singapore, but moved back to Shanghai in 2009. "There is a crowd of people in China who have resided and studied abroad for several years, but are now coming back to the mainland to realise their dreams," explain the designers.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

The South Bund district is also home to The Waterhouse, a boutique hotel in a disused army headquarters, which was named best interiors project at the Inside awards in 2011.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

Last week Dezeen visited Shanghai to take part in a series of discussions about architecture and design in China. See the snapshots from our trip on Facebook, or read about Neri&Hu's new Shanghai design centre in our earlier story.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

While we were there, Hong Kong-based designer Michael Young also tipped China to have as many world-class designers as Japan within 20 years.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

See all our stories about Shanghai »
See all our stories about China »

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

Photography is by Peter Dixie.

Here's some more information from HRC Design Works:


Sotto Sotto, which in an ancient warehouse, is located along the HuangPu River. It is also called Old Dock. The long history was consisted of the conceptions from ShiLiuPu, Li HongZhang, Titain QingBang, Huang JingRong, DuYueSheng and MinSheng Company. Here used to be the most prosperous port in Shanghai. And now, we choose here to let people enjoy a new life style and shopping experience.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

Here to collect for luxury shops, café, red wine and cigar. Combined with arts auctions and original home furnishing brands, we are also advocating a brand new shopping experience and relaxation area. When you go through the shopping area and come to the cafes, have a taste of the coffee, enjoying the view of the ships, letting the wind blowing hair, having free rein to your imagination. How luxury it is to have such a wonderful time in the afternoon, which is popular with those people who have high demand of lifestyle.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

In this ancient warehouse, we design it on the basis of respect and protection. Combining the recognition and history with the new environment, we always make every effort to make city architecture readable. As far as the ancient city architecture is concerned, designers think it should be readable as literature. It’s quite important that people can read its history and rich charm. Therefore, we’d rather have pure original structure than style. Here is the perfect place for you to relax from the fast pace of the city life. Under relaxing shopping atmosphere, you can look back from the past to present and future. All things here is the memory, the memory of the ancient architecture, the memory the people in this generation. The ancient wood, the sheet cooper, the bearing wood are reminding people to find themselves in this poetical space and learn a new life style through their new personal experience.

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

Project: The Bund SOTTO SOTTO
Location: Shanghai
Owner: Private
Design Studio: HRC DESIGN WORKS PTE.LTD.(Singapore)
Designer: Fei Liu
Area: 1400 Sq.m.
Material: Marble, Stainless Steel, Wood Board
End Time: Aug. 6 2012

Sotto Sotto by HRC Design Works

Above: floor plan - click above for larger image