Situated within the prestigious Three on the Bund, Mercato is renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s newest culinary destination in Shanghai, the first of which to serve up an upscale yet rustic Italian fare. Neri&Hu’s design for the 1,000 square meter restaurant draws not only from the chef’s culinary vision but also from the rich historical context of its locale, harkening to early 1900s Shanghai, when the Bund was a bustling industrial hub.
Stripping back the strata of finishes that have built up after years of renovations, the design concept celebrates the beauty of the bare structural elements. Three on the Bund was the first building in Shanghai to be built out of steel, and the architects’ decision to reveal the original steel columns pays homage to this extraordinary feat. Against the textured backdrop of the existing brickwork, concrete, plaster and mouldings, new insertions are clearly demarcated. Constantly playing the new against the old, Neri&Hu’s design is a reflection of the complex identity of not only the historical Bund, but of Shanghai at large.
Coming off the lift, one notices immediately the Victorian plaster ceilings above, its gorgeous aged patina juxtaposed against raw steel insertions: a series of lockers along the wall, a sliding metal gate threshold, and the suspended rail from which a collection of eclectic glass bulbs hang—the opulence of old Shanghai coinciding with a grittier side.