The siheyuan is the most traditional of Chinese courtyards– it comprises a mix of residences, palaces, temples and monasteries. But it’s surprising when a non-traditional drink in the country, such as coffee, makes it to the siheyuan.

That’s what Nestlé’s Sense Café pop-up did in Beijing. Through a ‘soft approach,’ RSAA and Büro Ziyu Zhuanggave visitors the chance to experience and perceive the courtyard space in a new way.

The layout of this ephemeral retail space created a maze-like environment, where visitors ended up in the garden. Inside the siheyuan, metal curtains and a red ribbon-like counter – which can be seen as a link to the ancient city – make the space look much softer than its history would suggest.

The overall spatial prototype is presented as an overlap of different levels, where the traditional and the historical meet the contemporary.