despite a limited budget, disputes with the neighbors, and a tiny 9 sqm space, onexn architects has completed ‘JOYS’ café in shenzhen, china. the micro intervention is situated in xiangmi third village, a neighborhood that has lost valuable community space to car parking and high-rise developments since it was first built in the 1990s. therefore, when approaching this project onexn wanted to create a new ‘public node’ while meeting the functional needs of the client. 

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

 

 

the original space was a community-based air conditioner repair shop. the site is linear and narrow, with a width of less than three meters. the goal for onexn architects was to make the café visible from afar while at the same time creating a pleasing spatial experience inside. the storefront was given top priority in the overall configuration of the project. in the interior, the efficiency of space was enhanced via customized shelves and a mezzanine floor level.

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

 

 

the façade is like an installation embedded into the space. the eave is its extension and the inward-facing part of the ‘installation’ is a curved suspended ceiling, which dissolves into the interior and creates a welcoming, living room-like space for the community. the architects removed the original heavy and low light box to create a more spacious and expansive space at the front elevation. the sewing machine and the flower bed outside the entrance have been retained as they were, maintaining a connection to the old building.

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

 

 

in order to maximize the small area, onexn carefully studied the cross section to pack in as much storage and functional space as possible. they also sought to improve daylighting by raising the height of the entrance the light box and the entrance form an abstract contrast of the convex and concave. through the entrance design, they hoped to give JOYS a soft light. a high strip-like window was carved out on the façade, to bring in some daylight while maintaining the sense of tranquillity in the interior. as night falls, the indoor light penetrates it, making it an ‘eye’ gazing at the city.

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

 

 

rather than exaggerate the storefront logo, onexn kept the JOYS sign small and subtle, letting the space itself do the talking. at first glance, JOYS arouses people’s curiosity to explore what this place is. the atmosphere becomes everything. it’s rooted here. it doesn’t need to shout ‘I am here’, yet people can understand, explains onexn.

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

 

 

inside, the café design utilizes grid-like display racks to control the ups, downs and size of the field of view, with the aim that each product is displayed independently. the cabinet is like an installation, full of flexibility. on the other hand, it leaves the upper half of the space empty, which helps ‘dissolve’ the curved ceiling into the rest of the architecture.

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

 

 

onexn architects says, ‘this is a project that required every cent spent in what’s really needed. within the space, we set a holistic baking and coffee-making area as well as independent resting areas, while overcoming many other constraints. with a limited budget of 100,000 yuan, we took many measures to reduce cost and coordinate construction period, and at the same time worked to ensure the safety of the structure and the durability of materials. for people in the neighborhood, JOYS has realized their imagination for good things. as urban spaces are becoming homogeneous, JOYS is not a genetic mutation, but a continuation of good memories of the client and our team.’

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

onexn architects inserts a 9sqm café into a busy street in shenzhen, china designboom

image © li jinhui

 

 

project info:

 

project name: JOYS
location: xiangmi third village, hongli west road, futian district, shenzhen, china
design firm: onexn architects
chief architects: zhang bo, wang jingjing
design team: an bingxiang, shi qiuyang, guo xiaohong
construction drawings: li nanfang
construction firm: essence atelier engineering co., ltd.
main materials: cement-texture paint, square tube, wooden veneer, frosted acrylic, glass
lighting design: PUDI
area: 9sqm
design phase: july-august 2019
construction period: august-september 2019
photography: li jinhui