Madrid, ES | Beijing, CN


CupOne, Beijing, China

CupOne, Beijing, China

Café as Public Space


Café, restaurants, libraries and the likes became indubitable extensions of our own place. In this particular occasion, LATITUDE has been commissioned to explore the possibilities of combining the functions of a standard café with the idea of public space.

The space is organized with two floors. The first floor has been opened up by erasing all its entrance façade and, therefore, becoming an extension of the outside space. Inside of it, the visitor can find two areas: the come-and-go (fast) and the relaxing area (slow).The first one is characterized by the use of high tables and chairs next to the service desk which is a longitudinal-lighting box wrapped by white glass. The second one is designed with low tables, and an embedded bench into steel-wall-furniture. These two areas are divided by a longitudinal-steel furniture which incorporates an orchestrate disposition of mirrors and projectors that will create a visual illusion. The spiral staircase acts as a transition space from first floor to second floor. Despites its functional importance as the main vertical circulation, it provides strong characteristic and dialogue between up and down.

The strings distribute around the periphery act as structural supports and balustrade for safety. Visually, those strings show the juxtaposition of brutal beauty by strong black steel material and lyrical rhythm by the repetition and alternation. The second floor is featured by its circular shape.  Within the 360° transparent panorama, the outside urban landscape and the interior has merged and become one.

Hence “wholeness” has become one of the major design principles.

One could describe the second floor as a single unit assembled by the form of circle, if disassembled; the unit will be elaborated to functional components such as circular-bench, outside-facing bar table, service table, ceiling-light and platform.  Those components not only spread from the center of the floor plan to emphasize the centric space but also layer in three dimensions to lead the circulation and construct the complexity of activities.

“Flexibility” is another key point for the space. The whole interior assemblage is not aimed to provide fixed model for particular activity. Instead, as the concept of CupOne itself, it offers a variety of possibilities. For example, unlike the normally use of one-table-two-chairs for coffee drinkers, short piling-like tables display along the circular bench as movable elements, customers may seat still, lean on, lying down and move the table as they wish. When necessary, the movable elements could also be stored away to create space for special events such as lecture and exhibition.

The principle for selecting material is simplicity, less is not always more, but always creates elegancy.

Timber is applied for floor, platform and tables to state the narrative of wholeness, black steel wrapped the service table tells the unfinished story of downstairs, presenting the continuity of vertical space. The white ceiling light echoes with white columns and curtain wall structure as well as strongly contrast with the black steel.

To respect the concept of whole never means to denial of details, on the contrary, detail design play an essential role. Take the heating system as an example, all heating radiators hide underneath the timber platform and the air outlets embedded within the side of circular bench at ankle level to let warm air go up, the careful-designed split-like outlet contribute to the artistic look of the whole. Thus service facility integrated with the form, again, responds to the concept of wholeness. Besides, The joint of the concrete and the timber floor, the contrast between soft (fabric) and rigid (concrete, timber and steel) all provide a delectable present when zoom in the lens.

As a result, the café transcends the basic function of serving coffee and beverage into a public living room, while provoking visitors to have different emotions with the design of those atmospheres.

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Status: Built