Zhuji, China – The Changnongtang shopping street in Zhuji is lined with contemporary tea shops and casual dining spots, hidden behind the façade of traditional Chinese storefronts. One of those tenants, though, excels in contrast: behind the open traditionalism of the inclined roof and the wood brackets of the Bar JI lies a series of dark arcades. ‘We wanted people to experience a wonderful space jump from the outside to the first room,’ explained Yongpeng Liu, one of the Daylab Studio architects behind the project.
Once they enter, patrons encounter four distinct lounging spaces: the White Gallery, the Black Arcade, the Blue Bar and the Red Bar.
To create the White Gallery, the Shanghai-based design team added a perforated-plate screen to the windows in the façade, as a way to strengthen the Zen-based concept. But then, the underground Black Arcade engulfs the light all of a sudden, creating a speakeasy within a speakeasy – yes, the designers were inspired by the US Prohibition Period.