Commanding, convivial and named after the Greek goddess of the night, Nyx is a rooftop bar in central Shanghai. Inspired by classical architectural ruins and wrapped in UV reactive cords, it affords spectacular city views. A monumental frame for the futuristic metropolis’ backdrop of glowing neon and luminous highways, Nyx offers an alternative, surreal experience in China’s foremost city of lights.
Maintaining a continuous dialogue with its contemporary context, Nyx echoes a distant past while projecting towards an abstract future, blending tropes of cultures and identities. The resulting installation sets a new ‘phygital’ aesthetic, creating a surreal spacetime experience in which visitors can momentarily lose themselves.
Drawing on his personal experiences of Milan life, Alberto Caiola’s design references the contemporary duality of ancient ruins – in particular, the Column of San Lorenzo. A tourist attraction by day, for decades, it has doubled as an informal nightlife setting for the city’s younger generations. Its openness creates both a comfortable space for groups to gather and convene, as well as inspires intimacy. In a city as dense and as populous as Shanghai, these were precisely the qualities that made a modern interpretation of an ancient sites so fitting for a bar destination.
The structure is wrapped in more than 21,000m of UV reactive cord. Black lights activate a glow similar to that of Shanghai’s highways come nightfall – a steady, luminous blue. At the same time, the cords wrapped around the installation’s frame, offer an abstract take on familiar tangles of cable and wire, visible throughout the city both overhead and on buildings.
Punctuating the structure’s blue glow are periodic dashes of red. Luminous taps for the bar’s range of over 20 craft beers, they immediately draw attention to the venue’s primary product. Visually separating the bar from the open-plan – and open-air – space are dramatic arches, framing the venue’s focal point.
A literal hand-woven architecture of light, and a temple to Shanghai rituals present and future, Nyx presents Shanghai night owls with an openness that at once draws groups close, and affords spaciousness in an otherwise close-knit city. Projecting a distant past, flanked by futuristic skyscrapers, Nyx presents an alternate perspective to Shanghai’s relentless modernity.