Phoebe Says Wow Architects has created a space that efficiently hosts a to-the-point coffee shop visit.

Key features

Briefed with the ethos that ‘a good cup of coffee is not enough to gain a competitive edge’, Phoebe Says Wow Architects set out to create an unconventional interior for the Fifteen Steps Workshop Coffee café in Taipei, Taiwan. Instead of opting for an open floorplan – practically synonymous in a coffee house environment – the client wanted to facilitate a quick-service environment with an on-site roastery and an invite-only multipurpose room where seminars or other private events can be held.

A semi-curved wall defines the space’s entrance where a perpendicular standing bar – to briefly enjoy a coffee – is found. The interior still, however, embraces the leisure of coffee culture outside, where a ledge is built into the storefront for customers to sit and enjoy their beverage at ease. Opaque polycarbonate panels framed in yellow-hued steel distinguish the shop’s different areas. The semi-transparent panels diffuse light throughout the space, creating a sense of allure to passersby and revealing silhouettes of activity inside. The separation of these spaces also reduces air conditioning costs, a practical feature for a café located in a warm climate.

Frame’s take

With many clients passing by on foot in this popular commercial section of Taipei, the shop’s owner smartly wanted to cater to those on the move instead of utilizing a typical open floorplan coffee shop. This approach to coffee-drinking is seen by the shop’s owner as a way to set Fifteen Steps Workshop Coffee apart from the archetypal café. Besides accommodating such a clientele, creating a space for a fleeting visit is increasingly compatible with a world where social distancing is an ever-present reality. Yet, with additional areas that can be optionally used for group gatherings, spatial agility has been built into this coffee shop, much like Blue Bottle Coffee’s takeaway-only stand in Yokohoma, Japan.