Kuanzhai Alley, located in Chengdu, has inspired Blue Architecture to design a café planned to build in this area. Kuanzhai is known as short for the combination of 3 parallel streets, namely Alley Kuan, Zhai Alley, and Jing Alley streets, which later inspired the design of % Arabica Cafe.
(% Arabica café is located in Chengdu's Kuanzhai Alley district)
During the design of % Arabica, Blue Architecture imagined how to create a space to enjoy a cup of coffee in the relaxed atmosphere of the Kuanzhai alley environment. From this, Blue Architecture came to the idea that brought % Arabica as an intrinsic communal, in which the architecture showed 'the pleasure of a small, relaxed environment and provided an opportunity for people to socialize in a more organic atmosphere.'
(Seating around the lawn lets customers watch people)
"We believe that cafes provide more than just drinks. More importantly, coffee allows people to come together, communicate, and fully experience the local urban culture. By extending the alley's dynamic living and cultural atmosphere to the café, we renovated the site to make it a dynamic public space that provides a rich and solid experience," said Blue Architecture.
(In the heart of the café is a courtyard filled with white pebbles and water)
To create an experience of walking in Kuanzhai alley, Blue Architect designed the café plan % Arabica with a winding shape. Which is then presented to visitors through spatial exploration with the booking flow. When setting foot in front of the entrance, consumers can choose their journey, through the right or left alley with the destination end of the same booking area.
The experience of walking in the alley will continue to be felt as long as they walk towards the booking area which requires passing through a path whose breadth is deliberately distinguished. This reflects the characteristics of Kuanzhai Alley winding and presents an urban atmosphere of pedestrians.
(The interior of the café % Arabica is designed to resemble a street)
(White bar counter area with modern design)
Not only that, but the team also chose the exact same material used in the Kuanzhai alley to maximize the feeling of walking in an alley. This material can be found on the floor of the café % Arabica, which uses gray bricks.
(Gray bricks lining the floor)
Interestingly, in the heart of the café, Blue Architect designed an open-air sitting area surrounded by glass panels. Thus, visitors in this area can experience sipping coffee with a view of the large yard filled with white pebbles and shallow puddles. In addition, the team also arranged a small semi-outdoor space for a private seating area.
(View of the café courtyard from the entrance)
(Private dining area)
The white bar counter area with a modern design is deliberately placed opposite the entrance like a street shop that people may encounter when strolling in the alley. Overall, the space experience of % Arabica Cafe is dynamic and prioritizes human activities. People walk, rest, and enjoy time freely in cafes. The lively scenery symbolizes life in Chengdu.
(A beverage ordering area is designed at the back of the café plan)
(The snuging area is placed opposite the entrance)
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