Imagining Beijing’s ‘Ban Shan Cafe’ On East 3rd Avenue Near Main St.

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(via) This, the second iteration of Beijing’s Ban Shan Cafe (the first being at the foot of the city’s Fragrant Hills), is on the east side of the Jing Yuan Arts Centre. The interior is intended to be a dissection of a mountain. We dig the wide variety of materials used; the multi-tiered feel with the short stair stacks; the many different light fixtures; the ways in the space changes its aesthetic as natural light recedes; and the range of seating options, everything from little nooks, solos, and gangster tables to communal seating, anchored four-tops and lounge chairs. Everything ties so well together. From Fei Pan, Zhi-Bang Shao, Xiao-Han Li (the designers):

What is very interesting is that the storey height for the first floor is 3.8 meters, which is too high for one floor, and not high enough for two floors, so the design of this space is full of challenge. The word “Shan (mountain)” reminds us of a poem of Su Shi: “From the side, a whole range; from the end, a single peak; Far, near, high, low, no two parts alike. Why can’t I tell the true shape of Lu Shan? Because I myself am in the mountain.” so a crazy idea came to our mind suddenly, we dug down one meter at the center of the space, and then built a mezzanine over it.

When customers walk into the dug “basement” through the mezzanine, an experience of “walking into the mountain” is presented. The floor height of the mezzanine is low, so inside it customers could only sit or lie; it is a good place for chatting for a couple of friends. A log cabin is built under the stairs leading to the second floor, and the stairs are hidden behind the log cabin. The second floor is divided into several small spaces, instead of using solid partitions, we use shelves of green plants. The natural shapes of the plants are changed as time passes by. Sit under the sunlight and with winds breezing, it must be the most cozy and comfortable experience!

This is the freely-organized, flexible space that we built, which is able to grow as it was alive. Every brick and wood here are signs of the workers’ efforts, and they are having a kind of dialogue with people within this space.

If we had magical powers and could lift it up and deposit it at a place of our choosing anywhere in Vancouver, we’d pick somewhere close to Olympic Village, maybe on East 3rd near Main Street.

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