Text description provided by the architects. Dongqi Architects transformed and enlarged an old café into a new space with coffee, craft beer, food and bakery in the downtown of Changzhou.
The interior space is an overall “L” shape space. Coffee, craft beer and bakery zones take places separately in the three corners of the “L”. Coffee and craft beer zone have white ceilings and floors，and the bakery zone is a space with black covered all surfaces. The black and white spaces is divided by the curvy ceiling edge and steel wire. The heights of the ceilings on the two sides are different，which not only differentiate the spaces according to their functions, but also naturally merge the old space and the new space together into an indivisible whole.
The surface of the coffee counter and part of the walls are mainly made of matte stainless steel. The section edge of the counter is tilted to make the surface of the counter looks quite skinny. The thinnest part of the edge of the counter is only 10mm. Steel wires with same gaps are like growing out of the floor and going through the inner steel frames, in the end fixed tightly up on the ceiling. Therefore, from a distance the customers would see counters “floating” in the air. The steel plate looks light while the steel wires are full of tension and strength. The counter is like a ballet dancer standing on her tiptoes. The architect hopes that the customers could feel the balance of power and grace in this space.
The coffee counter as a solid steel massing is designed delicately. The scale in the hand drip zone and the cup rinser are combined together. The filter of the cup rinser is designed to have a lot of laser-cut holes with shapes of “7”. The ice-bath and the cup rinser are welded and embedded into the surface of the coffee counter. All these design strategies are aiming to give the counter a cleaner and simpler look and give baristas a more professional experience when they are using it.
The pump of the coffee machine is totally exposed on purpose. The pipes of the coffee machine are hidden by wrapping mirror finished stainless steel plates around them. On the other side the pipes of the water filter are hidden in the cavity of the coffee counter. All these details aim to create a lighter feeling and a lightsome atmosphere.
The shelves for display are put in an eye-catching place facing the entrance. A single steel wire goes through all the shelves from ceiling to floor and makes sure the gaps are of the same distance. At human’s eye level, circles are laser-cut on the steel plate and the filter-drip coffee makers could perfectly fit in them. Since they are only supported by the 6mm steel plate, these filters are like floating together with the shelves and create a fascinating visual focus at the entrance.
The big steps pushed against the wall are made with steel plates sprayed yellow. The elevation sides are pushed inward to let the surface of the steps jut out and give a feeling of lightness. The bottom part of the steps are covered with mirror stainless steel. The use of this material here conceals the elevation parts to emphasize the feeling of floating of the yellow surfaces.
The facade are composed of two layers of steel wire screens. The 2.5 mm steel wires are pulled through the steel plates like threads on a soft piece of leather, and form beautiful hand sewn stitches on the steel.
The five sash windows on the street side could be totally open. When they are open, with the yellow window sills, they could form a relaxing seating area for the pedestrians and merge the boundary of indoor and outdoor space.
Steel wire is the main design element and plays the role of soul in the project. With all kinds of beautiful forms , steel wire is as a thread running through the whole space. The wire on the facade is curvy like a silky dress; the wires supporting the coffee counter filled with tension; the wires as screen to divide the black and white spaces are graceful like harp strings and functionally balance the two spaces. With all kinds of techniques and forms, the architect plays around with this material and puts on different masks for it. The “thread” helps add another layer of translucency and weightless for the overall atmosphere and the whole space turns out neatly as a whole.