studio8 wraps a spiraling shanghai café with green porcelain tiles

studio8 wraps a spiraling shanghai café with green porcelain tiles

LOAM Café & Bar: an Urban retreat in shanghai

 

Located in the vibrant art cluster of West Bund, Shanghai, LOAM Café & Bar, designed by architecture firm Studio8, has recently undergone an interior and facade renovation. This spiral-shaped porcelain house with its distinctive facade stands out as a tranquil oasis in the midst of the bustling urban context. With its gardened interiors flooded with filtered sunlight, the project by Studio8 stands as an unconventional leisure experience, allowing visitors to connect with nature within the confines of the city.

studio8 shanghaiimages © Sven Zhang

 

 

Transformation of Function and Facade

 

The architects at Studio8 encountered two primary challenges when undertaking this Shanghai project — the transformation of the building’s function and the incomplete facade of the original structure. Initially an enclosed art exhibition space, the architects were tasked with converting it into a versatile coffee shop and bar. This transformation required the space to easily adapt to different functions and scenes during various times and special events. Additionally, the question of separating the interior and exterior facades of a (semi) transparent building posed a significant design challenge. Studio8’s solution involved a holistic redesign of the building’s exterior, interior, and landscape.

studio8 shanghai

 

 

the tiled Facade by studio8

 

The original building, conceived as an independent, full circle spiral structure adorned with green ceramic tiles, only had half of its facade completed. To remain true to the original design’s vision, Studio8 aimed to complete the facade in a manner consistent with the initial concept. Through careful analysis of the interior and exterior spaces, the designers opted not to introduce additional elements but instead redistributed the existing porcelain blocks to reimagine the facade’s order.

 

Starting from the entrance, the density of the ceramic tile layout gradually decreased, creating a captivating gradient effect. This approach respected the original architect’s vision while allowing the porcelain tiles to cast playful shadows, infusing the space with natural elements.

studio8 shanghai

 

 

Embracing Nature

 

The design concept of LOAM Café & Bar was inspired by a central green maple tree. Studio8 sought to create a ‘journey’ around this tree, providing visitors with a gathering point for conversations and picnics. To achieve this, a surrounding lawn was added to connect the porcelain structure with its natural surroundings. A visual elevation passageway was established, facing the street corner and the maple tree, seamlessly connecting the interior and exterior spaces and providing clear views. The facade intertwines with the texture of the lawn surrounding the building, integrating the porcelain house into the urban green space.

studio8 shanghai

 

 

The Journey of Spaces

 

The journey through Shanghai’s LOAM Café & Bar commences at the large pivot door of the main entrance. When closed, it cleverly reflects the porcelain pieces, creating the illusion of a continuous and complete facade. Proceeding to the semi-outdoor area, visitors are greeted by the captivating green maple. A pathway surrounds the courtyard, covered with white gravel, inviting guests to take a moment to rest. This transitional space blurs the boundaries between inside and outside, with moving light and shadows accentuating the smooth curves of the design.

studio8 shanghai

 

 

Entering the interior space through glass doors, visitors are introduced to a distinct atmosphere. The seating arrangements transition from casual seating along the sliding doors to a set of round sofas, leading into a more intimate area with deep-seat sofas and comfortable armchairs — all oriented toward the courtyard, completing the journey to the central tree. Each space’s design language aligns with its intended purpose, progressing from fast to slow and from open to private. The changing dispersal of porcelain tiles on the facade corresponds to varying levels of natural light, accommodating diverse customer needs for resting, gathering, or solitude.

LOAM-cafe-bar-STUDIO8-shanghai-china-designboom-06a

 

 

Interactive and Immersive Experience

 

The underlying principle of Studio8’s design is the interactive and open communication between people and space. To achieve this, an immersive experience of ‘walking under the tree’ was created through multiple narrative elements, including facades, interior spaces, colors, materials, lighting, and furniture. The ceiling features a minimalist design without excessive decoration, maximizing the vertical space. Instead of relying on numerous ceiling lights, Studio8 implemented a diffuse light system that illuminates the ceiling directly. Specially treated discs, when directed toward the ceiling, produce a uniform and soft diffuse aperture, accentuating key areas throughout the site.

studio8 shanghai

 

 

Additionally, the space incorporates customized steel side tables connected by a unique rail system, allowing for adjustability. A fully opening glass sliding door breaks physical boundaries and fosters a seamless connection between people and the space. The custom-made bar counter, constructed of glazed concrete, mirrors the smooth curves of the architecture, echoing the texture of natural porcelain. Notably, several custom circular tiles are integrated to emphasize the connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces, maintaining a cohesive design language.

LOAM-cafe-bar-STUDIO8-shanghai-china-designboom-08a

 

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project info: 

 

project title: LOAM Café & Bar

architecture: Studio8 @studio8.architects

location: Shanghai, China

lead architects: Shirley Dong, Andrea Maira
team: Angel Gekov, STUDIO8 design team

built area: 253 square-meters

completion: 2022

photography: © Sven Zhang

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