How to create less constricting cafés? Design them like they're open markets

Changzhou, China – Cafés, for all the comfort their consumable offerings bring, can be, and often are, spatially restrictive – whether you find yourself snuggled into a side-street space or huddled in line at a cult coffee destination. They are spaces that can be exclusionary simply by way of their size and layout. But C.F. Café, a new Dongqi Architects-designed spot for coffee, fresh juices and light meals in Changzhou, breaks from that mould, with a spatial concept championing free movement over all else.

The team thought about how to manipulate the 288-sq-m space to subconsciously inspire roaming within. And then open markets came to mind: the events are always come-as-you-please, wander-as-you-please. There’s often food and drink involved. And, moreover, there’s always action – this was the kind of dynamic that Dongqi Architects and the client were interested in achieving with C.F. So, three bar counters were built – one for baked goods, one for coffee and the last for fresh juices – to concentrate people in different areas and get them socialising with one another.

Stainless steel, terrazzo and exposed aggregate finish were selected as the main materials for the café. The eye-catching bars are each follow the café’s branding palette, with grey and light pink hues. Overhead, three curved caps also made using the aggregate finish push into the ceiling, highlighting each area. Terrazzo bar tables are scattered throughout, reflected in the transparent glass of the inner façade; stainless steel walls are used for showcase.

C.F. Café has all of the aesthetic hallmarks of a space that will do well with the influencers and mood-boarders of the world. What’s better yet, though, is that the space’s layout was thought out so that all will be able to enjoy its dynamic design.

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