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The Shanghai Municipal Council Building (SMC) is located in the Bund area of central Shanghai. The building has been a political symbol since its completion in 1922, initially as the headquarters of the Shanghai Municipal Council of the International Settlement and later the Shanghai Municipal Government. The original design by British architect T.C. Turner was intended to occupy the entire perimeter of the city block, framing a large central courtyard. However, due to material shortages after World War I, construction ended with only three quarters of the building complete. In more recent years the building has fallen into disrepair.

The SMC building, which was listed as Cultural Heritage Building in 1989, will be restored and adapted for office use while key historic interiors will be opened to the public for the first time. A new office building will complete the urban block according to the original design, defining a courtyard space that is open to the public. A permeable and public ground floor will activate the courtyard and improve accessibility across the site. The façade of the new building is a contemporary interpretation of that of the historic building, utilising a stripped-back version of its neoclassical language. A set-back pavilion structure runs along the top of the building. It will host bars and restaurants opening on to a large terrace that offers views of the city along the entire perimeter of the site.

Within the courtyard, two buildings will define a series of spaces of different scales and character. The Red Building, an existing Victorian red brick villa built in the early 1900s that pre-dates the original SMC building, will be restored and adapted to accommodate restaurants and other public functions. A new building for events and performances will replace the former auditorium.The building’s central plan affords openness on all sides, reflecting its public role and engaging with the courtyard. Cultural and commercial spaces located in the basement are accessed from the courtyard, in the same manner as all public functions in the complex, affirming the courtyard’s pivotal role in the project.

The revitalised Shanghai Municipal Council will become an important public destination and an opportunity for people to better understand the role that these unique buildings have played in the city’s history.