Among other sinuous works, Shanghai-based Archi-Union Architects is known for its voluptuous Tea House residence and an office made from hollow brick that ripples like silk. Now it has given billowing interiors to Shanghai’s otherwise orthogonal Fu Space, a non-profit arts and community center situated in the West Bund district alongside creative offices and galleries.

The project takes its material cues from the building’s foundation while sculpting its forms around the constraints of functionality – rooms had to be multipurpose enough to accommodate rotating exhibitions and ever-changing usage – as well as awkward site dimensions, including walkways and streets that wrap it on three sides. The team used double-curved walls to link the structure’s 90-degree angles and straight lines to its swagging innards, and board-formed concrete to carve interior circulation spaces from seemingly soft walls.

This established five rooms astride the central staircase with ceilings that reach 4.2 m on one side and 2.8 m on the other. The design, influenced by the 3,000-year-old art of Chinese garden architecture, filters light in diverse ways, underscores indoor-to-outdoor transitions and creates a sense of shifting perspectives and perceptions of scale in a relatively compact 368 sq m building. On the roof, the double-curved walls peak into a sharp mineral crown, funneling daylight like a light breeze through the mainsails of the stairwell.

Photos Hao CHEN, Shengliang SU

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