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Located in Fengshengli, West Nanjing Road, Shanghai, this 25-square-meter coffee shop finds itself among tightly packed Shikumen buildings and commercial spaces. Situated right next to the metro station, it is in proximity to incessant traffic and pedestrian flow. To build a pacifying “emotional landmark” within the bustling scene became our first lead.

Emotional Landmark. Using the method of “de-architecture,” we applied large areas of glass and matte-finish metal to create an outstretched and transparent space of white and grey. Meanwhile, the curved roof and the warm lighting moderates the cold, stringent imagery, coupling rigidity with softness.

Roof, roof, roof. Roof has always been a keyspace element in our designs. In this particular case, rather than the roof being a mere signage board, we want the roof to establish a sort of structural aesthetics as the overall vision of the brand, which formalises the shop into some “white floating puffs” alleviating the metal space as a soft shelter for a short stay.
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Clouds, pillows, balloons, or spaceships – we avoid associating the roof with anyone’s imagery, thereby encouraging people to imagine their own spontaneous connections to the space. Like how coffee gets rid of fatigue, we want these floaters to help people zone out a bit. Among other possibilities, the cloud imagery forms a discourse with “birdie” in the brand name and insinuates the Internet age, in which everything is relocated to the cloud and life becomes intertwined with digits.

Working collaboratively with the engineering and construction team, we ended up using a C-shaped structure to support the entire roof so that we could keep only one ultra-thin column, preserving the sense of floating.

A Coffee Stop. We worked with a limited palette and purposely lowered saturation to emphasize the free design of windows and facades, which serves to dissolve the barrier between customers and baristas. Finally, the oblique thin pillar adds a layer of dynamism to the space.

From the overall framework to detailed expression, we pursue a balance of order and creativity, of industrial and temper. We hope this micro commercial architecture may fulfill its potential to calm sensation, spur the imagination, and slow down the hustle.

Architects: F.O.G. Architecture
Design Team: Aijie Xiong, Shaokai Hou, Yuzheng Song, Nanqi Feng, Jie Li, Dejing Zou
Photographs: InSpace


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