CUPONE is not only a place to relax and drink coffee, it is also a functional art installation in its own right
In 2016 SODA Architects were invited to design CUPONE, a coffee shop located at the headquarters of BMW China, by the lobby of Gateway Plaza, a commercial development near Beijing’s embassy district. CUPONE Café extends from an angle of the building’s lobby towards an outdoor terrace, with an indoor area connecting both sections. To integrate these features into a homogeneous design SODA Architects selected a “Mountains and Rivers” theme for the project.
The lobby as a visual centre
When visitors enter through the Plaza’s main access door and take the escalator to the second floor, the view offered by the quiet and rather empty lobby is hardly attractive. On the other hand, the real charm of a café comes from the atmosphere created by the diversity of its clientele. For this reason, SODA Architects decided to design a lobby with an artistic visual centre, one that allows visitors to forget about monotonous work environments, and provides room to sit back and relax while enjoying a cup of coffee.
According to the architects: “Mountains” deliver a cozy feeling of privacy to the open lobby, while the coming and going of visitors becomes “rivers” extending into the distance, just like gentle streams of water flowing through the mountains. Such a visual and psychological enhancement creates a sense of continuity between the open area of the lobby and the outdoor terrace.
To this end, after countless attempts, the architects selected nearly 300 vertical “leaves”: Their champagne plated exterior provides reflection, forming a three-dimensional dynamic filter.
Thus, colour and patterns on each leaf change continuously with every move, posture and variation on the clothing of both visitors and passers-by.
These leaves of different sizes are planted from the floor up to a height of 2.4m. Together, they create a range of mountains that provides visitors with a feeling of relative privacy and freedom of space.
Different shades of grey varnish were applied to the inner surface of the leaves. Side by side with multiple sets of purple seats, these symbolic elements reduce the influence of external disturbances, allowing guests to enjoy quality time on their own or with friends.
Regarding the interiors, the architects chose a colourful yet mysterious tone of peacock blue as the main colour theme, as well as refined solid wood and marble materials to showcase details. As an extension of the “mountains and rivers”, they hung close to one thousand leaves of white acrylic and reflective stainless steel at the top of the space, using particle hydrodynamics theory to simulate the flow of a stream of water, different material textures, light, and even reflections; just like the gentle flow of water under the sparkling light of the sun.
Thus, the stream is born at the entrance to the lobby, then flows through the cascading changes of mountains, into the most dynamic space of the project, right above the service counter, and spreads throughout the café, to eventually dissipate like gentle water flowers under the sun of the outer terrace.
SODA Architects attempt to change people’s inertial concept of daily space. Therefore, CUPONE Gateway Plaza provides a place to drink coffee, while being an extremely functional art installation in itself. It is based at the heart of a business area that stresses work efficiency, from where it breathes a warm and vivid feeling into a structure.