This project sits inside a beautiful white building that is the Shekou Sea World Culture and Arts Center in Shenzhen, China, designed by the world renowned Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. Staged behind a 24-meter long building curtain wall facade, the interior design of the Extra Time Café & Gallery by XU Studio strives to harmonize with the elegance of the architecture without losing its own unique character.
The project has a convex configuration in plan. XU Studio lined the edge of the long facade overlooking the sea coast with cafe and knowledge sharing areas, while turning the adjacent protruding square zone into a pure white art space. The latter’s adjacency and connection to the atrium of the Sea World Culture Arts Center allows the atrium to conveniently serve as its entry foyer. Daylight guides the visitor through a high and narrow arc-shaped passage to a gateway that opens up dramatically to a 6-meter high space with floor-to-ceiling glass.
Different from traditional cafe with lazy background music, in Extra Time one can hear the sometimes magnificent and detailed sound of the waves coming from an art installation suspended in space, aptly titled, ‘Waves’. The installation contains a new media art device involving the sloshing of steel beads to recreate the sound of waves from around the world. The side wall displays a large LED screen that immerses the room simultaneously in sight and sound of the seas, redoubling the sensory impact.
Also conspicuously suspended in space are ten luminous, oversized discs. They are inspired by the designer’s memory as a child, sitting by the window and watching the rain scatter ripples of varying sizes all over the outdoor pond. Now with a larger pond outside the cafe, so to speak, XU Studio hopes to seize and share that timeless moment in sensory abstraction.
In darkness, the luminescent pendant lamps behind the floor-to-ceiling window are particularly eye-catching, especially their reflection in the stillness of the outdoor pool.
Suspended on the upper mirror where a stainless steel box conceals a variety of equipment, the silver stainless steel LED strip light illuminates the space disks. The kitchen is wrapped in semi-permeable gradient glass to form a light box.
An elevated area with vertically ribbed glass and metal mesh forms a semi-private space. When the venue transforms into a knowledge salon, the metal frame drops the projection screen and the raised platform converts into a speaker’s podium.
Large expansive open spaces, along with moveable, attachable furniture, bring flexibility and unlimited possibilities to the project’s function and operation, among them: cafe, F&B, seminar salons, art exhibitions and immersive theater performances.
Spatial and functional flexibility, as well as adaptability of design to local conditions, combine to reinforce Extra Time’s hallmark as an ‘anti-franchise franchise’. To that end, the designers created the brand’s first store in Shanghai with spatial flexibility as a baseline, while the design language and techniques customized to reflect site conditions and business positioning found their way to a fresh new expression. Along the way, the designers of Extra Time’s Shanghai store on Changde Road turned the abandoned basement into a ‘mined’ underground space, characterized by rustic exposed concrete wall finishes that collide and contrast with contemporary reflective materials, as well as light-emitting film that interrupted the basement with the dull sense of dreariness of the industrial underground.
Design and info © XU Studio
Images © Zijun Lin