MIFA 1862, the focal point of the Harbour City at the heart of Shanghai’s Lujiazui Central Business District, is a theatre renovated from an old ship engine factory built in the 1970s. Working with CSSC Complex Property Co., Ltd. and renowned architect Kengo Kuma, Arup has provided structural, MEP, façade and lighting design to transform this old structure into a new cultural landmark that attracts visitors from home and abroad.
31,600m² development converted from an old ship engine factory
<1,000seats theater with ancillary facilities
Centerpiece of a cultural showcase
The Harbour City project has been redeveloped from the Shanghai Shipyard site whose history dates back to 1862, comprising commercial buildings, arts and cultural facilities, luxury residential areas and 5-star hotels. MIFA 1862, the last phase of the project, is designed to be an 800-1,000-seat theatre with ancillary facilities such as boutique shops, restaurants and an exhibition hall – all housed in five storeys above ground and one basement level having a total GFA of 31,600m2. To reflect the site’s industrial past, Arup’s multidisciplinary team has focused on retaining the existing structure and the building envelope while renovating the interior to include various cultural and recreational functions.
New life in an old structure
As most of the existing structures are in good condition, we have made the best use of them so that the new and existing structures are architecturally integrated. To maintain the structural behaviour of the factory’s existing structure, Arup has proposed to separate the new structure from the existing foundation, basement and superstructure. This strategy simplified the seismic design and overall system, but also brought challenges such as an irregular structural plan. Our structural and façade teams have worked closely to realise the elegant façade and canopy support, with 3D modelling used for spatial studies and construction sequence to cope with the limited working space.
Combination of functionality and creativity
The sloping roof, complex beams and columns posed great challenges for our MEP engineers. Equipment rooms have thus been arranged in the basement with the main plant rooms on the adjacent site, connected with an underground piping trench. Fresh air is induced to the building through underground tunnels with vertical louvers at the lower levels while exhaust air is ejected via vertical wells embedded in the arc-shaped roof. The tunnels also provide pre-cooling energy for the air handling system. Other creative uses of discarded components include relocating a 1.6m diameter steam tube for conditioned supply air delivery in the auditorium. Several chimneys were also kept in place for lightning protection.
Signature floating brick wall
The façade design merges a modern curtain wall with the old workshop. For the continuous glass panels to better blend with the antiquated walls, the architect has introduced a ‘hanging brick wall’ with thousands of bricks hanging on stainless steel rope in front of the glass as if floating. As the rope can only be fixed on the outside of the old structure and posed a big risk to the old concrete, Arup has designed a self-balanced steel frame and tension rope system, of which the old concrete column only takes the normal wind, seismic load and self-load, rather than the tension load.
Stylish industrial lighting
Our lighting design is tailored for highlighting the building’s unique industrial features. For the north and east elevations facing the riverfront, the lighting creates a dynamic appearance by night with linear LED lighting attached to the façade while care was taken to minimise the profile for the daytime appearance. The south and west elevations featuring new brick façades and existing steel columns are illuminated with warm white uplighters. Meanwhile, cool white LED lighting was integrated within the balustrade detail to highlight the metal mesh and show the central void at the retail area.