After entering a botanical garden and walking through a modest wooden gate, visitors descend to a 100 year old underground bunker. The 32,000-square-foot venue combines commercial functions with museum-style displays devoted to oenophile culture and viticulture.
The history of the site takes us back to the 1930s, when the British extracted granite to build Shanghai’s riverfront Bund from a suburban quarry. The military, under the command of General Chiang Kai-Shek, commandeered the site and constructed a bunker to safeguard military equipment and cultural treasures.
Today, one long vaulted space remains in its existing state, essentially empty except for the candles illuminating the bunker’s concrete niches. “We use that as a way to explain the history,” partner Kyle Mertensmeyer explains. Elsewhere, architectural installations are designed to be easily dismantled without damaging the historic surroundings. Oak wine barrels serve as pedestals for glass vitrines. On the ceiling above a counter employed as both a tasting bar and a point-of-sale, Mertensmeyer massed crates that once contained bottles of Château Malmaison into a sculptural swoosh. A separate VIP cellar is a cylinder 8 feet across. It’s ringed by bottles up-lit by LEDs and capped by a mirrored ceiling, providing a selfie-magnet that’s practically irresistible.
International Wine & Spirits Museum
Designer: Shanghai Godolphin
Photography by Rob Cleary.