While it is the view that draws most visitors to the New Heights Restaurant, located on the top floor of the Renaissance-style Three on the Bund building in Shanghai, there is now one more reason to make a stop—a striking new bathroom design by Shanghai-based Neri & Hu Design and Research Office (NHDRO).
NHDRO founding partner Lyndon Neri knows the historic 1916 building well; while he was director in charge for Asia projects for Michael Graves & Associates, he designed many of the building’s interior spaces during a renovation completed in 2004. In 2009, Neri returned with his own firm to design the New Heights restaurant, and earlier this year they completed a multipurpose dining room and redid the bathrooms in the space.
Off the new dining room—a steel-framed, frosted-glass insertion—is an oak-lined corridor leading to the renovated restrooms, where bronze signage on the terrazzo back wall directs visitors to the ladies’ or men’s side. A variety of materials and textures makes up the space, including wood countertops, porcelain sinks, and a metal-mesh ceiling that allows a view of the ductwork and pipes in the plenum. Lighting above the ceiling shines down to “create a series of beams to break up the scale,” says Neri; it casts patterns in the space that add another layer of texture.
While one of the team’s challenges, and successes, was to make the cubicle partitions “read as floating,” Neri doesn’t feel the space is futuristic. Instead, he says, the team merely played with neutral-colored, natural materials, such as terrazzo, wood, and bronze, in unusual ways. As a “strategy to give character” to each private space in the bathrooms, the team had large numbers etched into the custom bronze panels behind the men’s-room urinals and into the bronze stall doors—a playful touch that makes the space more memorable than a typical restaurant restroom.
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