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North No. 27 Shouhehuo Restaurant, Beijing, China


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South Sanlitun, Beijing-based DTWZ Studio has converted a 1960s former government canteen in their own neighbourhood into a restaurant that is both brutalist and soft.

This unusual combo effect was also the goal of the designers. They wanted to preserve some of the communism-inspired hardness while introducing a mellower, muted overall mood.

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The 268 square-metre (2,885 sq.ft) restaurant spans two floors; one on street-level and the other below ground. It is located in a courtyard in the southern part of Sanlitun in the Chaoyang  District of Beijing.

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In the late 1950s this area became the designated district for foreign embassies and expatriates but it  has since transformed itself into a popular area for shopping , entertainment  and nightlife.

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One of our favourite features of 27 Shouhehuo Restaurant is the new extension attached to the façade that completely alters the appearance of an otherwise boring concrete entryway.

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We also like the variety of iterations of mass-produced, customized seating. Some are basic seats in a muted pastelly green with skinny dark-metal legs. Others have bulky bluish bases and molded pale yellow seats that make us think of tractor seats.

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The mix of rounded, new concrete shapes with ripped and old, exposed concrete walls is a great accent that isn’t overdone.

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The overall bright and light ambiance is nicely achieved with scarce materials, muted colours, good lighting and maximizing natural light. Tuija Seipell

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