The Swatch Art Peace Hotel is on the site which was first occupied by the Central Hotel in 1854. The three-storey structure was the city’s most luxurious hotel at that time.
In 1905, its owner, Central Stores Limited Company, decided to renovate the building and re-name it The Palace Hotel.
In 1907, prior to the completion of the renovation, a fire led to extensive damage to the Palace Hotel and the Board of Directors chose to commission a completely new building.
It finally opened its doors for business in 1908. The year above the door, 1906, reflects the date of the architect’s blueprints.
When the owners decided to renovate the hotel in 1905, they invited the British architect Walter Scott to submit his designs. Scott, who was born in India and educated in Britain, had lived in China since 1889. He was instructed to respect as many of the hotel’s existing structures as possible.
The South Building of the Peace Hotel, built in 1908 as the Palace Hotel, enjoys protected status as a cultural monument.
The Swatch Art Peace Hotel project has engaged experts in historic preservation who, in their restoration efforts, have respected the building’s cultural heritage and its status as one of Shanghai’s most significant and well-known landmarks. Interestingly, its elevators were the first in Shanghai to carry people.
The Swatch Group has been actively involved in the restoration of the South Building of the historic Peace Hotel. Under their leadership and creative guidance the project’s innovative operational concept blends a retail environment with a hotel where artists live and work.
At the outset of the project, Swatch Group appointed Parisian agency Jouin Manku to develop a comprehensive design for the hotel interiors that assured due respect for the heritage and historical importance of the building.
For the retail space, Jouin Manku developed a unique environment for the Swatch boutique. Leading Swatch Group brands Breguet, Blancpain and Omega are also represented with boutiques of their own, featuring the period décor and cultural ambience of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel.
The Swatch Art Peace Hotel Residence comprises seven guest suites designed by Jouin Manku. Swatch Group has appointed Singapore-based YTL Hotels to manage the Residence and to operate the Shook! Restaurant on the Hotel premises.
A broad range of contemporary art is at the very heart of the project. Gifted artists from around the world, including China, will be invited to live and work at the hotel, for varying residential periods. They have the opportunity to exhibit their art in the dedicated hotel venues.
Through the hotel’s impressive entrance, visitors will find the lobby and boutiques representing Swatch and some of the Group’s brands including Breguet, Blancpain and Omega complemented by a boutique and a lounge and by the presence of an extensive art collection on site.
The first floor features an exhibition and art gallery area dedicated to exhibitions showcasing work by leading Chinese and international contemporary artists.
Invited artists will live and work in rooms on the second and third floors in apartment/ studios made available to them at no cost.
The fourth floor is reserved for three luxurious suites, designed according to specific artistic themes, which will be made available to special guests.
Two of the hotel’s floors are reserved for one community in particular, the artists.
Eighteen modular apartment-workshops can accommodate between thirty and forty artists per year.
Eight apartment-workshops are designed so that artists have a working space at their disposal which is separate from their living quarters; ten incorporate the workshop into the living space. The type of activity and the wishes of the artists determine the type of housing to be awarded.
The fourth floor features three exclusive themed suites for its special guests. One has a traditional Chinese art motif. Another features contemporary and modern art.
The third, The Swatch Art Peace Hotel Suite, has been inspired by the art and architecture of the building. The furnishings in the suites and the art that adorns them have been selected for their quality, for their beauty and for their ability both to evoke and provoke.
On the fifth floor is a restaurant which is open to the public. There will also be a multimedia space that can be used for movies, concerts, press conferences and various other public and private events.
A century ago, the Palace Hotel’s roof garden was one of Shanghai’s most popular attractions. Now the roof terrace is where guests can enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Shanghai from the rooftop bar; one of the building’s three iconic domed towers offers an exclusive restaurant space for quiet candlelit dinners. The roof terrace, whose view has been one of the best in Shanghai since the early 20th century, was part of Walter Scott’s original concept and has been redesigned with respect to Scott’s vision.
The design of the brand boutiques is consistent with the period décor and cultural ambience of building. New furnishings have been carefully selected to blend with the existing fittings, maintaining a conscious link to the building’s heritage.
The Swatch boutique space is light and modern but respects the architectural legacy of its host country. It blends elements of contemporary interior design with the historic features which have kept the Peace Hotel and The Bund among Shanghai’s most popular destinations for more than a century.