Noblefiber is a fashion brand with headquarters in Italy. It is specialized in fashion accessories made of mohair and alpaca wool. The company wanted to open a shop in 798 art district with duo functions of showroom and café. The shop is located on the first floor of an old brick building with masonry—concrete structure, constructed in the 1960s. The entire surface covers 150 square meters and is divided into 3 unconnected independent spaces with 2 bearing walls.
This original enclosed space does not satisfy the kind of open space required by the showroom space. The multi-function of showroom and café needs subdivided spaces and implications of functional transition. Hence, our concept is to add a horizontal wall to divide 3 large spaces into 6 small spaces. We carved holes on all the walls so that 6 cubic spaces are not only interconnected but also relatively independent. These cubes are assigned with different functional themes. The entrance and other supportive spaces occupy 2 cubes; the showroom and the café occupy 4 other cubes.
The wall openings are in the shape of an arch. From the perspective of weight support, an arch can evenly distribute the weight above to both sides. On the other hand, the arch is also a cultural sign which makes connection to Italy and Italian product. Personally, I do not like using signs to communicate design ideas in architecture. Here, the rational consideration of weight support is more important than making cultural reference. Moreover, the scale of the arch ensures the entirety and fluidity to the space.
The subdividing walls, no matter new or old, are all pained in white. On the surrounding brick walls, the surface paint was removed to show the uneven texture underneath, which brings out the language of industrial architecture in 798 art district. The new and old surfaces cast striking contrasts to one another. The white reflexive floor mirrors the arches above and gives a church-like ethereal feeling to the entire space.