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Qing Huan Noodle Soup Restaurant

Hidden behind the busy scene of CBD Beijing, at the street corner of a local residential area is this small noodle soup restaurant called Qing Huan. Through its two-story-high glass and steel facade, the beauty of its simplicity reveals. The proportion of the divisions on its facade mimicthose from traditional Chinese architecture, though it also looks as if it follows the golden ratio praised by the West. With its small scale, this humble noodle shop unveil a timeless architectural beauty.

The transparency of the facade maximise the visibility of the restaurant, lighting up the neighbourhood at night with a warm ambient.The glass and iron facade has a classical, almost nostalgic look, with the top and bottom transom panels made with concrete fibre board and overhanging windows in the middle. Inside the restaurant behind the huge glass entrance door, the grey terracotta floor tiles set against the lightweight concrete tiles under the bar counter. Together with the solid pinewood countertop and matte white tiles behind the open kitchen, it effortlessly creates a contemporary minimalistic interpretation of modern Chinese cuisine. For many Beijingers of the younger generations, a quick bowl of warm beef or chicken noodle soup may be all that it takes to comfort the stressful city lives in the capital.

Tucked in the corner next to the bar counter is the steel staircase that lead the special guests up to the dining room on the upper floor. Away from the busy open kitchen, it offers a precious tranquil dining experience. The recessed glass front of the upper floor yields a dramatic height for the ground floor, and provides the desired openness and privacy for the upper floor.

Walking up the staircase, one can caught a glimpse of the second floor as if it is a floating timber box above the ground floor. The moon window on the side reveals the zen ambience of the dining room, at the same time a picture frame from the inside capturing everyone passing by.

Unlike the vast openness of the ground floor, the upper floor is an intimate minimalistic secret zen garden. Inspired by the design of an ancient tea house, the cozy space is surrounded by abstract elements of nature. The falling leaves are frozen in time captured by the copper inlays on the concrete wall. The vertical timber strips mimic the intertwining tree trucks in a forest. Behind the timber bench in the middle, a special handcrafted calligraphy paper with green tea leaves is used as wallcovering. The translucent paper creates an illusion that the green leaves is dancing in a spring breeze beyond.

All of these detail are made possible to hide the guest washroom and store room behind the timber strips and the exhaust conduits from the kitchen below. Both functionality and aesthetic are combined and translated into poetry.

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Simplicity is the key factor for the success of the design of this little noodle shop, to maximize its versatility and comfort within such a small space, yet creating a unique character that speaks of contemporary Chinese cuisine. All materials are used at their most original state to emphasize the beauty from within. Inside the upper dining room for example, the wall and floor is covered by woven rattan mat. The mat provides asoft warm tactile finish to the space, and at the same time a relaxing atmosphere that can only be achieved with the material itself.

Under the evening sky in the neighborhood, the street is lit up by the inadvertently placed copper pendent lamps above the barcounter. Inside the kitchen, the shopkeeper watches city dwellers coming and going, passing by the shop throughout all seasons. Time passes in a blink, and life is as simple and beautiful as a bowl of noodle soup.