The Subtleties Of Single Person's Cave-Inspired Space

Table Talks
March 5, 2021
Emily Wordsworth

Located on 185 Yongkang Road in Shanghai, China, this meagre 60-square-meter space belongs to the 'Single Person' vintage homeware gallery. Narrow in space, the existing structure gave the architecture team Offhand Practice the idea to embrace its cave-like nature and have that theme define the space as a whole.

As if manifested by nature itself, two light sources can be seen streaming in on either end of the gallery. To provide more lighting in order to accentuate products in the store, they carved openings in the walls to create indirect light sources throughout the space. This gives the gallery an ambient candle-like quality.

An irregular-shaped peeking window punctures a wall to create a visual connection between the centre gallery and the side gallery, crafted in a wabi-sabi style with its organic shapes. As for the final room, the exit gallery, a row of skylights are designed to guide the visitors out of the cave. This magnifies the experience of walking through a cavern. Another feature of the site is the spatial hierarchy. Each room is elevated on a different level, which progressive the deeper you move into the space.

Apart from using height in different space, varied shades of colour are applied to show further emphasise depth. The first area, which includes the centre gallery and side gallery, is in white enamel. The corridor gallery is in ochre with darker shades, while the final exit gallery is in sienna, the darkest shade of all. Using earthy tones was a natural inclination with the cave concept and lends itself to the zen nature. Besides colour, paint texture is also varied in each room to bring subtle contrast in the spatial experience. Something that also adds to the natural, organic feel of the interior. Subtle in all the right ways, commanding in all it choices, this gallery is truly one of a kind.

“We should design our surroundings as if they originated by chance.” — Josef Frank