Text description provided by the architects. DAGA Café is located on the ground floor of a communist residential 5-story building in Downtown Shanghai. Even if the building is located in the heart of the former French concession it has no particular architectural value. The space has a U shape around the public staircase of the building and was highly influenced by the presence of a sequence of beams and pipes hanging1 meter below the ceiling.
The client, a private collector of European-style antique furniture kept from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, wanted to create a lounge environment were the guests could enjoy a simple meal in a comfortable space furnished by his own collection. The café’s name DAGA comes from the phonetic transcription of a Shanghaineese word 搭界that means “putting together different elements within one boundary in a harmonious way”.
The design decision was to create a new sculpted sharp envelope that will wrap the space from inside. Following this principle we create a continuous white inner skin that folds hiding all the preexistent defects and integrates the café programs (such a wine cellar, library, restrooms and kitchen). This sculpted new skin drastically changes the proportion of the space, and provides to the user with a sequence of distinctive spaces. In the heart of the space we locate a large angled white marble and glass bar that organizes the guests and the staff flow.
The use of traditional materials such a reclaimed wood from demolished old houses, brown leather, recycled ceramic floor tiles and white marble, contrasts with the triangulated white surfaces providing an abstract warm environment where the antique furniture stands out. The seating arrangements were mainly influenced by the preexisting collection of furniture providing a variety of dining experiences: from standing around the bar, group parties at the VIP room, sofa lounge by the glass facade, small tables along the bench or hiding in the low-ceiling mezzanine.