Metal Hands, Beijing – China


Committed to exploring domestic coffee, Metal Hands coffee has already opened six stores in Beijing and Shanghai, all of which are famous for their high-quality coffee and exquisite interior in spite of their small sizes. This project is Metal Hands’ sixthth shop in Beijing as the brand’s headquarter (factory shop), with a dedicated roaster to distribute roasted coffee beans to all other stores. The roastery serves as a transitional link for Metal Hands coffee, one that not only summarizes experience learned from previous shops, but also marks the new beginning of future development.

The overall space is connected by spaces of various sizes that were built in different yeras. The changing floor heights across spaces promise great potential for creativity. The first space is the lobby area, a frame structure with a ceiling height of 4.1 meters. The three huge skylight windows on the south, with their high windowsill, ensure ample lighting. A narrow corridor on the east leads to the second space, the sunken space. As the main house of the traditional Siheyuan, this space is a tile-roofed house with a wood structure, which was originally used as the cafeteria of the rehearsal spot. A small courtyard, the only outdoor area of the whole space, sits in front of the house and ushers in sufficient lighting. Through the kitchen area comes the back-kitchen area, whose ceiling height of 4.35 meters allows much room for creativity.

The marks of old concrete formwork pouring in lobby is clear. Kitchen area, a traditional wood beam structure, has not been properly maintained for years. It desperately needs to be cleaned so that its traditional charm can be rediscovered. The wood columns that have endured years of humidity and invasion of ants, the marks of concrete formwork pouring, the wood roof, the old ceramic tile on the concrete, the old turquoise window, the old terrazzo floor tile, all these elements, as far as we are concerned, are all interconnected, with a special kind of force flowing among each other. They were built, restored, connected and used in different times, all of which lead to how they look and what they are today. After renovation, they merge with the new environment, talking and interacting with each other through the bond stemmed from the time span. This new design seeks to intensify the connection, emphasizing on the passing of time by drawing comparison between different items as well as people’s perception of time generated from the switching among spaces.

The challenge was how to organically integrate different spaces into a stable and unified one that does not appear to be messy. How to create a brand-new and interesting community for coffee lovers; technically, how to manufacture irregular-shaped and curved concrete bar counter; how to orderly carry out cross construction of 5L Meet and our project; how to deliver Metal Hands’s intention for this factory shop to be a transitional link and how to make Metal Hands’ factory shop a more recognizable destination.

The lobby is transformed into the factory area, with a see-through roastery room surrounded by irregular-shaped and curved concrete bar counter. Customers sitting around the bar counter are able to observe the baristas as well as the factory as they operate. The counter is designed to be 800mm lower than regular bars, allowing closer exchanges between customers and baristas; the lobby retains and repairs the original concrete wall, ceiling and columns; on the ceiling, the element of pipe is utilized to design horizontal metal pipes that share the same contour as the bar counter. One of the pipes connects the water supply, with another three vertical pipes channeling the water to bar counter; the roastery room, with its silver-grey metal shell and see-through glass, has a mezzanine, which can serve as a storage area and training ground for coffee knowledge; a roaster runs in the roastery room, which, as a whole, creates the vibe of a factory with its sound, color and material.

The factory area is connected to old times area with a time tunnel. As people enter this 11-meter long futuristic metal pipe, their curiosity and anticipation of what comes next spike. And when they arrive at the old times area, the change in spaces gives out the experience of time traveling; the old times area is renovated from kitchen area, with roof and windows of the old house being replaced and refurbished. The original wall and terrazzo floor are kept in order to create the vibe of old times; a smaller bar counter is set up between main house window outdoor courtyard to serve the old times area and art space. This counter has an enclosed shape, with 1/3 of it located outside and the rest inside. The counter opens on two sides and serves as a middle island to link the outdoor and interior during busy hours in summer. Customers are welcome to sit around the counter, where baristas can serve them from any angle. Furniture at the old times area is purchased by Mr. Ding, the shop manager, from abroad. The classic furniture brings back vibe of the past, strengthening the concept of old times.

The back-kitchen area is rebuilt into an art space that combines art salon and exhibition. The cylindrical space on top functions as room for artist creation and small-scale exhibitions. This idea of openness also represents Metal Hands coffee’s exploration of future business model.

By immersing in and switching from different spaces, customers are able to experience the vibes created by all these spaces, in which they use communications and exchanges to produce more energy. Interacting with 5L Meet and shared theater, all these vibes form a unique force field in old Hutong area, which, to some extent, stimulates the daily life and enriches cultural experience in Hutong.

Photo credits:  Weiqi Jin
Design: Linkchance Architects

Metal Hands
68 Jiaodaokou Beiertiao, Dongcheng Dongcheng District, Beijing ,China
Phone: +86 155 1053 3895