Copper Blockhouse: Wutopia Lab’s Multi-functional Spiritual Fortress
Experience the Copper Blockhouse, a unique architectural marvel by Wutopia Lab, nestled in Shanghai’s creative industry park.
Constructed in 2023, this multi-functional structure is built in a powerful nautical and industrial design style, serving as a spiritual fortress amid Shanghai’s bustling cityscape. Featuring a robust copper exterior and a versatile stainless-steel interior, this blockhouse brings together strength, functionality, and minimalist beauty in one compelling design.
About Copper Blockhouse
The Copper Blockhouse: A Testament to Resilience
Embrace the unpredictable, for it is in the uncertainty that you find your true essence. You are not the sum of your possessions or your professional accomplishments. You are the lively melody of life itself, a dance of vibrant energy in the vast cosmos.
In 2021, my friend Qiye and I found ourselves in a similar predicament. Personal challenges served as a backdrop to our professional engagement: the design of a central building within a creative industry park. Amidst our preoccupations, we sought solace in work, trying to redirect our anxieties into creative energy.
Shaping a Multi-functional Spiritual Fortress
We realized the need for more than just another cafe or club. Our predicament demanded an edifice that served as a sanctuary, a multi-functional spiritual fortress. We envisioned a space that transcended commercial success, something akin to a modern-age museum, soothing our agitated souls and justifying our existence.
With nautical machinery and ships as my muses, I decided to construct this building entirely out of metal. Ultimately, we settled on copper, a metal that I intuitively felt was robust enough to safeguard our vulnerable souls.
Building a Copper Blockhouse in the Fashion of Ship Construction
Inspired by the original arched shed on site, the design of the building emerged. The construction began with the keel, fashioned from structural steel ranging from 150mm (approx. 6 inches) to 220mm (approx. 8.7 inches) wide. This was then encased in copper plates, creating the internal and external facades of the “Full Metal Jacket.”
A Stainless-Steel Oasis in the Copper Blockhouse
Inside this fortress, a stainless-steel oasis provides functional space, doubling as a cafe and a stage, complete with a kitchen and bathroom. This singular embellishment within the Copper Blockhouse signifies the tenacity of our spirit and our underlying desires.
Emerging from the Waters: The Submarine-Inspired Design
To further enhance the nautical theme, we transformed the northern greenspace into a large black wading pool. The Copper Blockhouse appears as a submarine, a shining whale surfacing silently, causing ripples of energy.
Preserving the Past: The Architectural Continuity
Despite the park’s transformation by a talented architect, I retained some features to honor its past: the newspaper wall on the south side, the security outpost, the majestic tree, and the rockery. I believe in preserving fragments of memory, especially amidst the abundance of design throughout the park. In the grand symphony of architectural design, the Copper Blockhouse stands as a moment of quiet reflection.
Versatility in Silence: The Potential of the Copper Blockhouse
The “pause” encapsulated in the fortress provides endless opportunities: exhibitions, performances, lectures, parties, even skateboarding events. By opening the gate towards the pool, the cafe transforms into a stage, revealing a sparkling catwalk with the water receding. Initially, we imagined dramatic shows here, but as of 2022, I envision glorious fireworks and choir performances echoing across the water, celebrating our shared trials and hopes, for “What’s past is prologue.”
The Copper Blockhouse: An Inspirational Sanctuary
Each passing minute brings us closer to our inevitable end. But in this transience, we find motivation to create, to inspire, and to live fully. The name “Copper Blockhouse” is inspired by an air raid shelter on the project site. This architectural masterpiece stands as a solid fortress, a testament to our resilience, encapsulating the strength and spirit of our shared human experience.
Photography by CreatAR Images
Visit Wutopia Lab- by Matt Watts