Delicate and Strong: dongqi Architects design Seven Coffee in China
Client: Seven Coffee
Architect: dongqi Architects
Location: Changzhou (CN)
Seven Coffee, which is characterized by clear geometry, powerful materials and surfaces as well as a sleek colour concept, has nestled into the ground floor of a building corner in the Chinese city of Changzhou. The glass façade on the south side of the café presents clear visibility to the inside. To the right, the café develops towards the interior to more private, accommodating spaces which remain hidden from outside view. The lower third of the façades are extensively glazed and can be almost completely opened by means of sliding panels; this transforms the yellow window benches in front of the space into inviting seats when the weather is fine. The upper portion of the exterior view is dressed with a light curtain of steel cables which gives a preview of the interior design.
The L-shaped floor plan serves the functional tripartition of Seven Coffee as café, craft-beer area and bakery. Each component of this trio finds its place in one of the corners of the space. The main entry is positioned on the south façade. When visitors enter, the view opens directly onto the craft-beer zone, which occupies the inside corner of the L. It is surrounded by presentation areas made up of horizontal stainless-steel sheets and vertical steel cables. These give the impression that the membrane-thin sheets are floating in the air. Sleek built-ins along the wall complete the zone.
The heart of the space is found on the left: the coffee counter has also been done completely in stainless steel. The sheets, which are at most 10 mm thick, give this area a delicate appearance. In contrast to ordinary counters, here dongqi Architects have not added a backing to screen the interior space. Like in the craft-beer area, there are only the horizontal panels held in place from floor to ceiling by steel cables. These have an airy character; on the other hand, the way they run through the stainless-steel sheets reveals their strength. The counter features many carefully planned details. While the espresso machine and its unconcealed pipes deliberately take centre stage, other elements such as the sink and drip tray have been integrated almost seamlessly and are perfectly coordinated. Moreover, the seating is adjacent to the counter. Small tables stand along the glass façade while eye-catching seating steps of bright-yellow lacquered stainless-steel sheeting combined with mirrored risers attract all the attention on the wall opposite the counter.
The area to the right of the entrance is the expansion to the café space. The bakery that finds its home here completes the trio. Its design clearly delimits it from the rest of the coffee shop. This is achieved with colour and a curvilinear rise in the ceiling. Painted completely in black, this area is organized around a sturdy sales counter of stainless steel. Like the beer area and café zone, the bakery is complemented with steel cables that are used here as space dividers and give the effect of a light curtain.