Brewing up a new lease of life in granary
Standing on the Fangsheng Bridge, a landmark in Zhujiajiao Town, Qingpu District, people will likely be attracted by a glass house supported by six cylindrical buildings on the north bank of Caogang River.
On entry, people step into another world intertwined with the enshrouding aroma of coffee, the everlasting charm of art and a page of history.
The 70-year-old once idle granary has a new lease of life. It now houses a cafe, an art exhibition center and a library.
The Tongcang outlet of popular cafe chain One Step Garden opened over the weekend, injecting new life into the old building while retaining its historical appeal.
As a water-bound town in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Zhujiajiao produced abundant rice since ancient times.
Its rice industry reached its heyday in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when the yield amounted to up to 1.8 million kilograms per day.
After China's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945), some rice merchants in the town hoarded rice for profiteering, affecting the livelihood of locals.
To regulate the market, in 1954, government authorities established the Zhujiajiao granary for rice management, which could store up to 24 million kilograms of grain.
It is a silent witness to the rice development and history of the town.
The redesign of the building maintains its past with grain storage tanks retained.
Taking a close look, people will find small square holes for ventilation, shade and coolness of the granary. Also well kept are funnel-shaped facilities where workers packed rice for transportation.
The rice would be boated across the nation from the granary.
The redesign of the building took an approach of modern industrialization elements.
Climbing fan-shaped staircase, people will encounter different areas from art exhibition to cafe and dining, as well as book reading.
Staggered layer design embody a sense of mystery, which triggers people's interest to discover for new experiences.
"The old grain storage tanks are maintained, and old photos of Zhujiajiao are displayed, together with some paintings," said Allison Zhang, who is in charge of brand operation of One Step Culture Communication Co, the operator of the cafe.
"The coffee machines are like the heart of the building, and greenery surrounding the interior area is like the lung. The art display area is its soul, telling the story of Zhujiajiao."
Zhang said in the future, works of inheritors of paper cut, an intangible cultural heritage, in Zhujiajiao will be put on displayed as well.
"We hope to protect the old building and make it come alive again, inviting people to read its history and boosting rural revitalization during the process," she said. "It is not a cafe, but a cultural and art space where people can have a short 'vacation' in a cozy environment and get close to nature."
One Step Garden operates more than 20 outlets across the city.
On the first day of opening, the cafe was packed with customers.
May Wang, a resident of Qingpu, cycled seven kilometers to the cafe.
"I have visited quite a number of outlets of the cafe, as I like the idea of merging history and nature into a cup of coffee," she explained. "Old buildings get a rebirth and young people start to know about these buildings."
If you go:
Address: No.9 building, Lane 339, Kezhiyuan Road, Qingpu District
Oening hours: 9am-10pm