Shaorou @ Gala







Project Type


The café is located within an existing commercial building that is part of a mixed development within a suburban neighbourhood. The building consists of busy coffee shops and eateries on ground, with offices making up the bulk of the lots on upper levels. As its conception, the café was intended to be the first eatery within the building to be located on the upper floor.

As such, the brief called for a design that could address several issues:

  1. Attracting customers to the café on the first floor.
  2. Providing an alternative environment to the existing busy coffeeshops and eateries below.
  3. Overcoming a tight budget presented by the client.

An internal common space links all shop lots in place of a typical back-lane, essentially acting as a ‘street mall’. This meant that like a mall, the back of the lot was to be prioritised as the main frontage for the café.

To address the need to attract customers to the café due to its atypical location in the building, the signage of the café was designed as a lightbox. The idea was to draw attention from the bustling crowds both around and below the café, signalling its presence within the building.

Glass blocks were incorporated extensively throughout the café. This is due to their ability to balance transparency and privacy, ease of maintenance, and air-conditioning requirements. The design of the glass block façade of the front intends to strike a balance between the idea of pulling in crowds through transparency, while maintaining enough detachment from the busy coffee shop environment outside.

To minimise capital cost, reconditioned furniture and decors were used. Finishes were then left raw wherever possible to accentuate these reconditioned pieces, while also helping to reduce cost for the client.

We were able to introduce indoor plants extensively in this project due to the generous amount of natural light provided by existing east-facing full-height windows. Plants and lighting in the café became integral components of the design, creating a comfortable and pleasant eating environment for patrons. This approach also served to soften and add warmth to the café’s overall aesthetic, contrasting its ‘cooler’ material palette.


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