In China, sneaking inside the cash machine for a glass of gin and tonic

Hangzhou – We’ve seen speakeasy bars and dens concealed behind traditional Chinese storefronts, atop comfort-food restaurants in Mexico or blocked by random doors in Atlanta. But this is the first time we’ve seen a bar hidden behind that most quotidian of street accoutrements, the cash machine. But that’s precisely what separates Hangzhou’s Noisy Bank from the ruckus of the pavement.

The design team at Nanjing Linear Architecture was bent on a bit of disruption. ‘The ritualistic entrance, with the three machines, is an attempt to experience the contradiction between privacy and prying,’ explained lead designer Xu Zhichao. ‘And from then on, we tried to break with conventional thinking and even common sense, to try to stimulate the desire of going inside.’

Once there, visitors step inside a contrastingly large reception area, with booths right next to it; the first floor features a long bar and a VIP room – the entire space is 180 sq-m in total.

But what happens above and around the booths and the bars and the rooms might be the most transportive feature at Noisy Bank: through a detailed set of colour-changing light strips that can match 256 colours and a group of carefully positioned mirrors, Nanjing Linear Architecture created a starry sky inside the bar, with spots that look like wormholes to other dimensions. ‘This bar is supposed to be a gathering place for people of different places, different identities,’ mused Xu. ‘So they can come here through these wormholes, exploring the unknown.’

And to think that all of this can be found on the back of a cash machine.

Location 

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