Harmay Chengdu UFun, a place where 24-hour culture is more the norm than the exception

Harmay Chengdu UFun

As one of the happiest cities in China, Chengdu stands out from other first and second-tier cities with its unique “slow life” urban culture that effortlessly blends with its rapid city development. The city boasts of an exciting hybrid of leisurely activities that spill out onto the public realm, where street-side tea sipping and outdoor corner hangouts are a part of typical Chengdu life.

Harmay Chengdu UFun designed by Aim architecture

In this project, AIM Architecture ambition was to bring together a 24-hour program at a single site.

Harmay Chengdu is an exploration of how a cosmetic store, bakery, and a bar can coexist and spatially influence each other.

While it would have been easier to place them side by side, designers intention was to create a crossover where one program influences the other throughout the day while offering the flexibility to function independently.

Harmay Chengdu UFun designed by Aim architecture

Centralizing the store, the bar and bakery embrace it with a linear space. The typology of this”store-within-a-store” is achieved with a simple and minimalist intervention. One continuous boundary encloses and divides the core spaces, simultaneously becoming the skin between the outdoor and indoor environments.

Made from industrial factory door units, all identical in scale and appearance, the doors are openable and movable for accessibility and connection, but also locked in and static where needed. A window in each door unit allows the divided spaces to always have a visual connection, even when they are closed.

The simplicity of using industrial prefabricated elements is the main driver throughout the space.

Harmay Chengdu UFun

The repetitive stacking of these components forms the most dominant object in the interior, helping to organize the visitor’s spatial experience. As found in the brand’s warehouse, the prefabricated crates are affordable and easy to install. Stacking is a simple operation, but our design explores the potential of this element, with its standard size and durability, resulting in various furniture and objects.

The crates result in multiple display forms, and along with the brand’s standard rack system, generate a simple but unique store experience. The rest of the space is designed as a warehouse, with simple white floor tiles and a steel grill ceiling. Walking through the cashiers, made of other industrial elements, will lead visitors to the bakery.

Croissant-inspired outdoor seating elements are designed in a humorous way

With views into the kitchen area and screen contents showing live thermal video footage of customers outside the store, visitors have an opportunity to engage with the brand in a literal way. The croissant-inspired outdoor seating elements from BAsdBAN are designed in a humorous and straightforward way, inviting visitors to sit down and try the popular pastries.

Harmay Chengdu store

The flexibility and simplicity of the industrial facade emphasize easy human connections and interactions towards the public plaza. Chengdu is known for its outdoor life, and stacked wooden pallets become sitting areas where visitors can rest and meet freely.

“Once again, together with Harmay we gavepublic space back to the community while actively participating in writing a new chapter in Chengdu’s city life. This project has been an exploration of prefabricated elements, recalling the brand’s warehouse culture and reminding us that complex and customized techniques, materials, and design are not the only way to create high-quality retail experiences” – designers explains.

Harmay Chengdu store

Location: Chengdu
GFA: 585 sqm
Design: AIM Architecture
Design Principals: Wendy Saunders,Vincent de Graaf
Studio Director: Yvonne Lim
Team Leaders: Simon Huang, Jerry Guo
Interior Team: Song Jie, Yuan Chen
Visualization: Jiao Yan
Photos courtesy: Wen Studio
CN Copywriter: Carmen Xu

See also
Harmay Wuhan
Harmay Chongqing