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    Reflecting pool centres XC273 fashion boutique in former Shanghai towel factory

    Chinese studio Dongqi Design has turned a disused factory in Shanghai into a multi-brand fashion and lifestyle store, adding glossy marble and metal surfaces to offset its exposed concrete shell.

    Set across three floors, the XC273 retail space houses designer showrooms and pop-ups alongside a small cafe, as well as providing spaces for temporary exhibitions and events.
    Dongqi Design has turned a former factory into a fashion boutiqueFormerly a state-owned towel factory, the building had already been changed several times before the latest round of renovations.
    Dongqi Design strived to preserve and emphasise these different layers of history, which are contrasted against shiny new finishes to create a kind of “nostalgic futurism”.
    “All the differences of the space were kept as part of the building’s history so that people walking in could feel that the boundaries between the past and the present are blurred, as if they had walked into a timeless space,” the studio explained.

    The XC273 store houses a cafe alongside designer showrooms and pop-upsThe building is organised around three voids, which now form the basis of the store’s circulation routes.
    The largest of these voids consists of a double-height space at the core of the building, where Dongqi Design added a small reflecting pool surrounded by a collonade.
    Glossy surfaces are contrasted against the building’s raw concrete shellThe collonade’s raw concrete columns are left exposed where they face the pond, while their other three sides are wrapped with either marble, wood or metal.
    This approach is replicated across the store’s display fixtures to create a sense of spatial continuity. It can also be seen on the first floor, where new paving was added to enhance the existing geometric flooring.

    Offhand Practice designs second-hand bookshop in Shanghai to mimic greengrocer

    A sound tunnel that provides visitors with an experimental music experience was placed near the cafe on the ground floor.
    The second floor is accessed via a metal staircase, which is suspended above the reflecting pool and winds its way up through a small hole in the ceiling.
    A reflecting pool was installed at the core of the building”The key element connecting all the spaces is the stairs,” the studio explained.
    “The stairs are designed in their purest metallic form, further enhanced by the details of the balustrade where the fence becomes a simple element sliding into the structural beam at the bottom while having a profile on the top to allow visitors to grab the handrail comfortably.”
    Concrete paving was added to complement the geometric flooring on the first floorOn the second floor, Dongqi Design selected a bright white finish to emphasise the old wooden structure of the building’s pitched roof. A series of square windows let light into the space and offer views out across the city and toward the sky.
    To balance out the otherwise all-white interior, the VIP room is finished in a darker palette. During spring and summer, these darker shades also contrast with the colour of the trees outside.
    Dongqi Design gave the second floor a bright white finishXC273 has been shortlisted in the large retail interior category of this year’s Dezeen Awards.
    Other projects in the running include a second-hand bookshop in Shanghai that uses supermarket-style crates to display its wares and a reusable sales showroom with fabric walls.
    The photography is by Raitt Liu.

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    Cun Panda designs escape room with tree at its centre for Chinese game company

    Chinese studio Cun Panda has created a flexible space for immersive game company Qian Hu Zhi Wu in Xiamen, China, that features a silver-foil-clad tree, acrylic seats and mirror installations.

    The local game company runs 14 escape rooms in China. Cun Panda’s design for its latest space measures 330 square metres and was designed with a focus on flexibility to enable a number of gaming narrations to take place.
    “We aim to create a space that can tell stories,” the studio said. “The design injects extraordinary imagination and creativity into the space that integrates art and immersive experience.”
    A series of rock-like formations surround the central tree installationAt the entrance of the space, a giant tree made of resin and covered in silver foil stretches through the ceiling to form the centre piece of the space. Added light installations were designed to look like satellites and planets circling the tree, giving the piece a futuristic feel.
    The tree is surrounded by a series of rock-like formations, which were informed by Stonehenge.

    “Stonehenge is taken as the prototype to open the interlaced space leading to the new world and build a dimension door of virtual and real,” explained the studio.
    Light installations have been added to the silver treeThe rock-like sculptures in the space have round holes to create clear sightlines inside the escape room, where the lit-up floor is the main light source and creates a variation of shadows.
    Next to the entrance space, a narrow corridor connects the game room with a storage room, dressing room, and makeup areas. Stripes of lights and a mirrors installation on the wall and ceiling were designed to create an infinite sense of space.
    Green moss and black sand add a sense of nature inside a white roomIn another room, sand-dune shaped seats are supported by transparent acrylic to create a floating effect, revealing green moss and black sand in the otherwise completely white space.
    Here, another tree breaks through the wall into the space and connects to the main tree installation. The white wall is lit up by LED lights and printed with shapes of sand dunes.
    Stripes of lights and mirrors create a visual illusionCun Panda was founded by Xuanna Cai and Jiacheng Lin in 2019 and has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming and Xiamen.
    Other recent interiors from China include timber and travertine reading room by Atelier Tao+C and Fatface Coffee shop by Baicai, both shortlisted in this year’s Dezeen Awards.
    The photography is by Xinghao Liu.

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    Muhhe Studio inserts “wooden box” into old factory to create light-filled photographer's studio

    A white-painted steel and timber volume that contains an office, dressing room, reception and studio space sits at the centre of this photographer’s studio in an old factory building.

    Located in a former factory building that looks out onto a busy T-junction near a park in Nanjing, China, HNS Studio was designed by architects Muhhe Studio for local photographer Huai Nianshu.
    The studio began by removing all partitions and ceilings in the space to reveal a pitched timber roof structure.
    HNS Studio is a photography studio that was renovated by Muhhe Studio”In the early summer before the reconstruction, we went to the site, after the old partition was removed, the high-rise space of the old plant was warm and transparent in the sunlight of the afternoon,” recalled Muhhe Studio.
    “The photographer himself is extremely sensitive to light. His only expectation for the new space of the studio is a ‘transparent’ space.”

    In order to capture the light, the studio used BIM software to simulate the movement of daylight across the space throughout the course of the day. In response to this study, the studio created several different-sized openings along the building’s west gable end and roof to ensure that the space would be evenly lit at all times.
    It sits within a former factoryIn addition, the architects inserted three large windows that function like a storefront for the studio and increase its connection to the street outside.
    A two-storey structure that resembles two stacked boxes and contains all of the studio’s amenties was built in the centre of the space. At ground floor level, an office, dressing room and toilet are clad in marine-grade plywood.

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    A set of stairs at the back of the plywood volume leads up to a floor wrapped in white-painted steel. This open top floor overhangs the space below and will be used as a large photostudio space with a reception and open-plan office.
    The architects left the original factory space with its brick and plaster walls largely untouched to function as a “continuous and rhythmic open space”.
    The interior was painted white and decorated with wooden furnitureThe original street-facing entrance on the south side was moved to the back so that before entering the office, you now have to pass through a semi-enclosed courtyard.
    “We pay attention not only to the indoor space, but also to the outdoor space, and even the relationship of the entire park, as well as the relationship between the history and the present of this space,” the architects told Dezeen.
    “We designed the space very delicately to allow users and visitors to enjoy it. [To be] people-oriented is our ultimate goal.”
    Windows were inserted to function as storefront-style glazingThis project has been shortlisted in the small workspace interiors category of Dezeen Awards 2022.
    Other projects in the category include a part-workspace and part-community hub in a sleepy fishing village in Taiwan, and a wine-bar workspace for a consultancy company in Sweden.
    Photography is by Xiaowen Jin unless stated otherwise.

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    FOG Architecture creates kinetic display for Super Seed's Hangzhou store

    Chinese studio FOG Architecture has added over a hundred moving display boxes to skincare brand Super Seed’s latest retail store in Hangzhou, China.

    The studio installed 168 kinetic semitransparent acrylic boxes in the main product display area of the 300-square-metre store.
    Its aim was for the boxes to help create a variety of different display combinations, while also encouraging more interactions between the visitors and the products.
    Over one hundred movable acrylic display boxes are installed at the storeAn electric motor moves the boxes, which were programmed to move vertically in two different ways.
    Under the static mode, the boxes can move up and down to one of three height levels, while under the dynamic mode, seven height levels can be selected.

    FOG Architecture uses steel ropes and stranded wires to hang the boxes from the ceiling and selected 20 millimetres per second as their moving speed after multiple tests, to ensure maximum security and smooth movement.
    The boxes can move up and down at various heights”It challenges the divorce between fixtures and furnishings in traditional spaces by softening the borderlines between itself and the walls, floor, ceiling, and lighting,” FOG Architecture said of the installation.
    “This novel installation redefines the formal expression of the functionality of shelves, producing a unique spatial experience,” it added.
    Display areas can be easily transformed for different purposesThe studio has also designed a series of modular chairs to go with the display boxes. These wooden chairs can be placed next to the acrylic boxes when they’re at floor level, helping to create a seating and display area.
    “Unique shopping experiences rely on the creative interpretation of conventional spaces and the innovative application of everyday functionalities,” said the studio.
    “In this case, we envisioned a retail method different from packed shelving units, and proposed a multipurpose, interactive, and interesting display structure.”

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    Next to the product display area, there are five “labs” where visitors can try out the products. FOG Architecture used metal counters to give this area a futuristic feel that would highlight Super Seed’s technology and research background.
    At the entrance of the store, an inflatable wall adds softness to the otherwise hard space where metal, glass and acrylic are the main materials.
    Metal counters are used to make the space feel like a labVarious plant exhibitions can be found throughout the store in a nod to the fact that the skincare brand is plant-based.
    Dried plants were placed in capsule-shaped containers, while green plants were mixed with the beauty products in the acrylic display boxes, creating an intriguing visual effect through the frosted semitransparent boxes.
    An inflatable wall installation is used to soften the spaceFOG Architecture was founded by Zheng Yu and Zhan Di and has offices in London, Shanghai and Chongqing.
    Its recently finished projects include fragrance brand To Summer’s flagship store in Shanghai, which was longlisted in the large retail interiors category of Dezeen Awards 2022.
    The photography is by SFAP.
    Project credits:
    Design team: Deng Ye, Zou Dejing, Hou Shaokai, Zhang Wanyi, Jiang Lu, Zhan Di, Zheng YuLighting design: Zhang Xu (LB Design)Installation Design: Shanghai Faithture Props Co., Ltd.Structure Consultant: Tao XinweiManaging Contractor: Youlong Jinsheng

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    Three hundred beer crates form furnishings of Shenyang's Fatface Coffee shop

    Bottle-green beer crates are stacked to construct a long counter and matching stools in this pop-up coffee shop in Shenyang, China, designed by architecture practice Baicai.

    Installed in the city’s Window Gallery for a month, the pop-up shop belongs to local cafe Fatface Coffee. Its interior makes use of 300 beer cases to create a central bar and stools with cork seat pads.
    Shenyang’s Fatface Coffee pop-up uses beer crates as furnitureShortlisted in the small interiors category of the 2022 Dezeen Awards, the design hopes to merge Shenyang’s love of beer with its emerging coffee culture.
    “Shenyang is a city beaming with a love for beer,” local studio Bacai explained. “The city’s fondness for beer is expressed in its popularity across the streets and its ever-presence in the daily converse of the residents.”
    “How can the coffee culture respond to the city’s attachment to beer? This pop-up shop aspires to explore the energising dynamics between the two seemingly opposite cultures.”

    Cork was used to form seat pads for the stoolsThe studio says it chose to work with beer crates as they are economical, modular, reusable and help to create a strong visual identity inside the Fatface Coffee shop.
    Custom-made cork seat pads sit on top of the beer cases to form the stools, while a glass panel was cut into shape to create the bar’s countertop.

    Sik Mul Sung

    “The strategy explores the endless possibilities of what a beer case could be: a bar counter, seating of various heights, an exhibition stage or a screen to hide the frameworks for water and electricity,” said Baicai.
    “The project experiments with the confluence between beer and coffee, bridging meaningful dialogues between what is local and what is imported.”
    The bar counter is topped with a glass sheetFatface Coffee’s large central bar was designed to challenge the conventional floor plan of a cafe, and according to Baicai creates a more open, democratic space where baristas and guests can circulate freely.
    Other projects shortlisted in the small interiors category at this year’s Dezeen Awards include a yellow attic conversion in Antwerp and a serene timber and travertine reading room in Shanghai by Atelier Tao+C.
    The photography is by Topia Vision.

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    Atelier Tao+C creates serene timber and travertine reading room

    Two vacant ground-floor rooms and an adjoining greenhouse were knocked together and lined with bookshelves to form this private library, designed by Atelier Tao+C for a venture capital firm in Shanghai.

    Set in a converted 1980s house, which is home to the offices of VC fund Whales Capital, the reading room can accommodate up to 12 people and is shared between the company’s employees and the owner’s friends.
    Atelier Tao+C has created a reading room for Whales CapitalAll of the rooms are enclosed by immovable, load-bearing walls, which local practice Atelier Tao+C had to integrate into the design while creating the impression of being in one continuous 76-square-metre space.
    To this effect, the original doors and windows were removed and three openings – measuring between two and three metres wide – were created to connect the rooms.
    The space is lined with wooden bookshelvesThe remaining wall sections are hidden from view by new architectural elements including a set of semi-circular wooden bookshelves, which run through the two ground-floor rooms to form a pair of small, quiet reading nooks.

    The structural walls connecting these rooms to the old glasshouse were wrapped in creamy white travertine to create a kind of “sculptural volume”, Atelier Tao+C explained.
    Skylights funnel natural light into the interiorAs a result, the studio says the walls and structural columns are “dissolved” into the space to create the feeling of a more open-plan interior.
    In the old greenhouse, a timber structure was inserted into the building’s glass shell, with bookshelves integrated into its wooden beams and columns to create a seamless design.

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    This structure also forms a wooden ceiling inside the glasshouse, with strategically placed round and square skylights to temper the bright daylight from outside and create a more pleasant reading environment.
    Spread across the interior are four different seating areas: a small study table for solo work, a shared meeting table, a reading booth for one person and a sofa seat where multiple people can talk and relax.
    White travertine was used to obscure the building’s original brick wallsA Private Reading Room has been shortlisted in the small interiors category of the 2022 Dezeen Awards.
    Atelier Tao+C, which is run by designers Chunyan Cai and Tao Liu, is also shortlisted for emerging interior design studio this year, alongside Sydney firm Alexander & Co, Barcelona-based Raúl Sánchez Architects and London practice House of Grey.
    The photography is by Wen Studio.

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    Offhand Practice designs second-hand bookshop in Shanghai to mimic greengrocer

    Used books are displayed in supermarket-style crates at the Deja Vu Recycle Store in Shanghai, which local studio Offhand Practice has designed to counter the “shabby” image associated with second-hand shops.

    The store, which also carries pre-owned fashion, is located on the first and second floor of a three-storey building on Shanghai’s buzzy Anfu Road.
    The Deja Vu Recycle Store is located in Shanghai’s Anfu RoadOn the interior, Chinese architecture studio Offhand Practice hoped to create a relaxed shopping environment despite the large number of goods on offer, which includes more than 2,000 pieces of clothing.
    With this aim, the studio set out to mimic the experience of going to a greengrocer by displaying clothes and books on shelves typically used to hold fruits and vegetables, while giving all products equal prominence regardless of price.
    A long gallery-like corridor leads to the staircase for the first floor”Picking up books in the way of picking up vegetables and fruits gives a feeling of enriching the spiritual basket,” Offhand Practice explained.

    On the ground floor, the studio recessed the building’s entrance and framed it in cream-coloured mosaic tiles to create a small shelter while making the towering facade feel more welcoming.
    Second-hand books are displayed in supermarket-style cratesOne of the main challenges for the studio was to encourage passersby to walk through the building’s ground floor – consisting of a long corridor bookended with space for mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) equipment– and climb the stairs to reach the Deja Vu Recycle Store.
    This was achieved by turning the corridor into a kind of gallery, showcasing the process of refurbishing second-hand goods.
    “Taking advantage of the narrowness, we identified spatial depth through layers of opening,” the studio explained.

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    Books are displayed on the building’s first floor and clothing on the second. Both levels have an open-plan layout with circulation routes defined by shelving and clothes rails.
    Mosaic tiles made from stone off-cuts were used to form decorative wainscoting in the same creamy beige colour as the facade, which channels 1970s Shanghai interiors.
    Contrasting green tiles were used to frame the generous window openings revealed during the building’s renovation, and to form integrated window seats.
    Green mosaic tiles were used to frame the building’s windowsNatural pine was used to form the cashier counter, shelves and book crates to add a sense of warmth to the interior.
    Offhand Practice said it designed the store to break with negative preconceptions around second-hand stores being “dull, disorganised and piled with shabby objects”.
    “Deja Vu Recycle Store breaks the stereotypical image of a second-hand store and erases the ritualistic impression of a traditional bookstore full of full-height bookshelves,” the studio said.
    The tiles were also used to emphasise arches and other architectural detailsThe store was recently been shortlisted for large retail interior of the year at the 2022 Dezeen Awards.
    Other projects in the running include a surrealist pop-up shop designed by Random Studio for fashion brand Jacquemus and a concept store that Schemata Architects has created for an outdoor brand in South Korea.
    The photography is by Hu Yanyun.

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    Superimpose Architecture creates subterranean conference centre based on Victorian shopping arcade

    Superimpose Architecture used a traditional shopping-arcade typology to transform the dark basement of a commercial development in Hangzhou, China, into The Arcade conference centre.

    Designed to appeal to a young audience, The Arcade is a subterranean space made up of a wide L-shaped corridor lined with meeting rooms, a cafe, a lobby and an auditorium.
    The Arcade is a subterranean conference centre that was designed by Superimpose ArchitectureInserted between structural concrete columns, the spaces have white facades that resemble shop fronts.
    When designing the centre, Rotterdam and Beijing-based Superimpose Architecture looked to the design of traditional shopping arcades that were popular in Europe from the 18th to the 20th century.
    Wide L-shaped corridors are lined with work and social facilitiesThe Victorian arcades typically connected two busy streets and were lined on both sides with shops sitting under a series of arches supported by a colonnade.

    Lit by daylight funnelled in through glass skylights, the shopping arcades served as protected indoor retail environments and social gathering spaces.
    To combat the lack of natural light in The Arcade conference centre, Superimpose Architecture inserted two long linear “floating” acrylic ceiling boxes that mimic the colour and intensity of natural daylight along the ceiling of its two main corridors.

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    “The light boxes have an immediate visual impact in the basement and serve as a clear indicator for circulation,” said Superimpose Architecture. “The two axes can also be used as exhibition space.”
    Each conference room was given a distinct character through the use of different colours, light fixtures and materials.
    Acrylic ceiling boxes mimic natural daylightThe seating in the large auditorium is organised in a semi-circle that runs the entire length of the space to create a forum-like setting.
    Linear light boxes follow the seating arrangement, while wooden louvres and red carpet help to improve acoustics and add warmth. The facade of the auditorium can be fully opened, allowing the room to expand and become part of the entrance area for events.
    Other subterranean office interiors include this silver-coloured office extension in Munich and an office in London with a “speak-easy style” basement.

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