When the former building of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China reopened in 2004 as Bund 18, it was the best example of colonial building renovation in Shanghai. The project had all the elements for success, including a building rich with history, a fantastic location, an architect firm specialist in historic renovation brought from Italy and a vision of bringing together wealth and style. The original combination included a number of luxury shops, top level offices, an art gallery, a Chinese restaurant, a western restaurant topped by the now famous Bar Rouge (see post “decadence on the Bund“). With the replacement of the original French restaurant by the highly successful Mr & Ms Bund, the combination has faithfully kept in line with the original mix. Introducing a second nightlife spot on the 4th floor, the now gone Lounge 18 (see post “dancing in the bank“), kept in line with the classy and attractive image that was originally created, as mentioned in CNNGO article.
Lounge 18’s successor, CUVVE, does just not fall in the same category. I don’t think I have seen such a carnage since the ruinovation of the Paramount building several years ago (see post “Paramount Suicide“). Although working in one of the best preserved building of Shanghai, the designers have deliberately destroyed or covered any of the heritage fixtures. Years of history, millions and months spent on careful renovation have been destroyed in the 20 days it took to build the new interior. Where the original designers had carefully mixed the old and the new in a very successful and classy way, the ones responsible for this nightmare had no care nor understanding for what they stepped into. It is hard to believe that Bund 18 management allowed this horror to happen after years spent on careful image building. Hopefully the new fixtures will be easily dismantled when the club will cease to exist, as most clubs in Shanghai do not seem to last for very long. Still, this is a great waste of this wonderful space and I fail to see how this fits the Bund 18 brand essence.
The club itself is not so bad, although it is not that special either. From my point of view, the lighting effect is clearly inspired by Spark in Taipei 101, while failing to reach the sophistication of its model. The required ingredients of loud music, lot’s of drinks and gogogirls could turn it into the next nightlife spot, though the lack of originality does not compare very well against competition in town. I am sure the management spent lot’s of money to create it, but it would have been much better in one of brand new towers. Successful clubs in Shanghai have often been part of shopping malls or office buildings, this just were this one should have landed.
Leaving CUVVE, one find itself stepping back into the sophisticated universe that is the Bund 18 experience, just like waking out of a nightmare. Unfortunately, this nightmare will not go away after tonight.