- EQUATOR PEAK COFFEE, sharing a good coffee in Yiwu
Drinking tea for millennia has been an important part of Chinese culture. However, times are changing, and China is slowly becoming a coffee-drinking nation, especially with Gen Z curious to try new things. Hence, the growing trend of cafés places to enjoy a good cup of hot energising drink.
In Yiwu, a city of almost 2 million inhabitants in Zhejiang province, at the geographical centre between the cities of Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Jinhua, the designers of WJ STUDIO, a young, heterogeneous, and creative team, under the guidance of its founder Leo Hu, winner of major international design awards, including the Architizer A+ Awards 2022, have created the EQUATOR PEAK COFFEE, strategically positioned in the centre of the city and overlooking the river. Moreover, it is not far from Wanda Plaza and high-end residential areas, thus with a stable audience with some spending power.
These premises dictated several design choices, as the designers wished to propose "a place to stop and rest, relax and chat with others, or take a brief moment of leisure amidst the hustle and bustle of the city", as they write in their press release.
In this case, WJ STUDIO's creatives have deliberately moved away from the well-established type of take-away service, such as Starbucks. Those places are known for clients sitting in front of their laptop, using the place as an office, favouring the private sphere and not the interaction with other customers. Instead, EQUATOR PEAK COFFEE, as the architects explain, "wants to create a new type of social café, perhaps to reflect the growing need for social interaction or perhaps to project this need into the design of the space."
In support of increased interpersonal relationships, the design aims to expand the interior space outwards, also visually, thanks to the use of materials, especially the flooring and most of the interior walls. These are, in fact, of red brick, wood, and stone, with the precise aim of creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere extending as far as the dehors. In addition, mirrors help creating juxtapositions that further strengthen the connection between the interior and exterior. All this is emphasised by the vertically divided façade, where the ground floor part opens with upward folding windows, giving the terrace an almost holiday or resort-like atmosphere, as the architects of WJ STUDIO define it. The first floor, on the other hand, features large full-height windows, further fostering dialogue with the urban context, which can be enjoyed from here comfortably seated on deckchairs.
The person is at the very centre of the project, those who go there to have a cup of coffee, finding themselves in a joyful and luminous context, where, if necessary, they can interact with other guests, thanks also to the lightness of the interior design that favours the exchange of glances and smiles.
Overall, WJ STUDIO with EQUATOR PEAK COFFEE has created a venue that stands out in the panorama of contemporary coffee bars for its summery and vaguely camp-like atmosphere, as the architects share in their press note.
Project: WJ STUDIO
Location: Yiwu, China
Images: Zhang Xi