SODA Architects transforms an office lobby, which is typically just a transitional zone, into a functional space that facilitates relaxation and exchanges between people.Located within the headquarters of BMW China in commercial development Gateway Plaza, CUPONE cafe consists of three separate spaces – a section of the building’s lobby, an indoor unit and an outdoor terrace. The design was spearheaded by SODA Architects, who focused on a theme of “mountains and rivers” to create visual continuity between the otherwise distinct areas.“We decided to design a lobby with an artistic visual center, one that allows visitors to forget about monotonous work environments, and provides room to sit back and relax while enjoying a cup of coffee,” the architects share. The vestibule was transformed into an inviting space. Eye-catching structures, coupled with the hustle and bustle that the cafe generates, inject life into the previously quiet and empty space, greeting visitors and setting a lively mood as they pass through the building’s main entrance.A total of 300 vertical ‘leaves’ of varying heights were planted from the floor up, creating cascading dividers that echo mountain terrains. The inner surfaces of the ‘leaves’ were applied with grey varnish that stand in contrast to the deep purple upholstery. Besides creating visual interest, the reflective structures demarcate the cafe zone and offer a sense of privacy within the open lobby.The visual identity extends into the enclosed indoor unit with slight variations. Over 1,000 white acrylic and reflective steel ‘leaves’ were installed on the ceiling, simulating the flow of a river stream. Informed by the theory of particle hydrodynamics and by playing with light and texture, SODA Architects sought to impart calmness and tranquility to the coffee house.The interior space is differentiated from the lobby by way of sophisticated peacock blue walls, and a refined material palette of solid wood and marble.The coming and going of visitors to the building are poetically perceived as gentle ‘streams’ that add life to the space, beginning at the lobby entrance, flowing through the ‘mountains’, and leading towards the service counter and the rest of the cafe.
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