Breathing New Life into Coffee Shop Culture: A Focus on Multi-Functional Café Spaces

Throughout the years, coffee shops and cafés alike have become so much more than just a place to acquire a delicious brew. Since the first coffee shops were established, they have been used as social places to congregate and meeting points for the public. Alongside the development of coffee shops came the ‘coffee culture’, a set of traditions and rules regarding the way cafes are used, and the way these delicious brews are enjoyed. 

Coffee shops are everywhere, not just on our city’s high streets, but globally beloved. They offer an atmosphere that is warm and inviting, with a focus on the ambiance and aesthetic of the space as well as the services they offer, with some cafes housing multiple functions beyond the brew. Therefore, the question stands: how are coffee shops today tapping into creating new spaces that are interesting and bring new life to the beloved culture?

9 ¾ Bookstore + Café / PLASMA NODO. Image © Daniel MejíaOption Coffee Bar / TOUCH Architect. Image © Metipat PrommomateOhvenu Cafe / YOLLLLEY STUDIO. Image © Yong-joon ChoiCoffice / GASPARBONTA. Image © Balint Jaksa+ 34

Located in Chaoyang, China, Blufish Yingke is a coffee shop in the daytime and a bar in the evening. SODA Architects combines physical spatial morphologies with virtual dynamic images, allowing the atmosphere of the space to be changed over time.


Related Article

Beans and Beams: 17 Projects that Explore the Design Elements of Coffee Shops


During the daytime, the pure and elegant white setting provides a quiet place for the busy people to take a rest here. As the night falls, the swaying corals and the swimming fish become the protagonists. As the day and night come and go, this 30 square meter space switches itself between cafe and bar. The pure white background and the amazing images endue the space’s emotions, which makes the space changeable and fascinating.

Blufish Cafe Yingke. Image © Xiyu Chen
Blufish Cafe Yingke. Image © Xiyu Chen

Option Coffee Bar designed by TOUCH Architect is located in the city center of Udonthani, Thailand. There are three primary functions of the space: café, restaurant, and bar, together in one space with time-sharing functions; café and bakery, a restaurant in the morning, whilst used as a craft-beer bar in the evening.

A simple white box was created to show contrast from the context, together with, focusing on art elements inside. This makes it easier to catch the eyes of people around the site while generating a ‘simply different’ atmosphere by using all black and white materials. This box allows natural sunlight from outside to inside during daytime for a café, while creating a coloring effect from multi-color lighting from inside during night-time as a bar, arousing customers’ sensations by changing emotions during the timeline.

Option Coffee Bar / TOUCH Architect. Image © Metipat Prommomate
Option Coffee Bar / TOUCH Architect. Image © Metipat Prommomate

COFFICE is a multi-layered initiative designed by GASPARBONTA & Partners. The core concept is a smart combination of a laid-back coffee shop, a co-working space, and a bar, in the same space. Each function happens at a different time of day, while the size and openness of the spaces needed by the users keep on varying, and yet they need to represent different moods.

Still, with the continuity, it has a certain coziness for the ones who do the studying during the daytime and an alternative for the ones having a cocktail at night, for a place to study, work or tho have a coffee during the day. Work, drink, sleep, repeat.

Coffice / GASPARBONTA. Image © Balint Jaksa
Coffice / GASPARBONTA. Image © Balint Jaksa
Coffice / GASPARBONTA. Image © Balint Jaksa
Coffice / GASPARBONTA. Image © Balint Jaksa

Ohvenu Cafe as designed by YOLLLLEY STUDIO is a space consisting of interior space and an exterior terrace. At sunset, the interior space is transformed into a monotonous terrace while the setting sun presents a magnificent view through the gap between the buildings surrounding this space.

The design team intentionally exaggerated the scale of the door which leads to the terrace at the end of the bar counter, blurring the boundary between the interior space and the terrace by taking the sunset and the night city view into the interior space.

Ohvenu Cafe / YOLLLLEY STUDIO. Image © Yong-joon Choi
Ohvenu Cafe / YOLLLLEY STUDIO. Image © Yong-joon Choi
Ohvenu Cafe / YOLLLLEY STUDIO. Image © Yong-joon Choi
Ohvenu Cafe / YOLLLLEY STUDIO. Image © Yong-joon Choi

Rong Bao Zhai Coffee Bookstore by ARCHSTUDIO is a project located on a well-known street in Beijing called Liulichang, originally a book store selling Chinese paintings, calligraphy publications, and ancient books. In an attempt to upgrade its premise as a traditional bookstore, the firm intends to combine both the bookstore and coffee house, attracting more readers with its compound management model and diversified experiences.

Accompanied by a cup of fragrant coffee, individuals communicate with others, books and nature, creating a relaxing and comfortable reading environment with a slow rhythm. In order to change the heavy and rigid images of traditional bookstores, new designs use transparent and lightsome iron bookshelves to integrate functions, transportation, equipment, and illumination and put green plants in the stores to make their internal space more continuous and open as well as full of vitality.

Rong Bao Zhai Coffee Bookstore / ARCHSTUDIO. Image © Wang Ning
Rong Bao Zhai Coffee Bookstore / ARCHSTUDIO. Image © Wang Ning
Rong Bao Zhai Coffee Bookstore / ARCHSTUDIO. Image © Wang Ning
Rong Bao Zhai Coffee Bookstore / ARCHSTUDIO. Image © Wang Ning

9 ¾ Bookstore + Cafe, designed by PLASMA NODO, is a bookstore cafe specialized in children, although, adults are equally welcome to partake in the fun. The firm believes that cities need warm and nice meeting places that welcome us and invite us to learn having fun with our families and friends, sites where people not only buy but go and have a good time.

The areas for children in 9 ¾ are small hiding spots or places where they can draw, rest and play while learning and enjoying a good book. For grown-ups, there are private reading rooms and also tables for sharing, all surrounded by warm materials, furniture, and decoration objects that speak of the joy that gives us a good story, a good book. They believe in imagination, magic, dreams, in memories. They believe that the best ideas and conversations come easily with a good cup of coffee.

9 ¾ Bookstore + Café / PLASMA NODO. Image © Daniel Mejía
9 ¾ Bookstore + Café / PLASMA NODO. Image © Daniel Mejía
9 ¾ Bookstore + Café / PLASMA NODO. Image © Daniel Mejía
9 ¾ Bookstore + Café / PLASMA NODO. Image © Daniel Mejía

Today, we associate the place of the coffee shop with other things other than the fact of coffee consumption. It’s an office space for students and workers alike, a place to chat, socialize, and beyond. Coffee culture now goes beyond a simple coffee stop, and will continue to evolve to integrate new purposes to fulfill.