Super Rice Architects has designed a flagship space for meditation brand FLOW - a leading meditation brand online in China, with the concept of "Receptacle for the soul," creating a tranquil spiritual space in Shanghai. It is also their first offline space.
The overall space is covered in an earthy tone with shimmering light and shadow. It contrasts the white spectrum light of urban life to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Curved forms are widely used to provide a mellow sense of being wrapped and surrounded.
Super Rice Architects started with the word FLOW, breaking down into two essential elements - 1: tension and 2: direction. In the name of FLOW, the architects hope to exemplify the inner energy of life and echo the state of "flow" (the optimal experience in psychological terms). Dynamic flow is created like music throughout the space as the critical feature of the design; it creates a continuous but ever-changing experience.
Programmatically, the space is divided into front and back areas. The practice and service area mainly occupies the back, which includes the practice rooms, dressing room, and waiting area. The front lobby accommodates a retail, display, and pre-sale service area.There is a seamless integration with the front area and surrounding environment, without any sight obstructions, showing the public that this place welcomes everyone.In addition, the front area also carries the retail function. Still, Super Rice Architects and the owner both aspired to challenge the conventions of retail display and develop a more gallery-like display space for the brand's products. The displays were carved out from the wall and created their own three-dimensional display space. Super Rice Architects has challenged the traditional shelving display and constructed sculptural forms reminiscent of works commonly found in galleries, which implies the preciousness of the objects on display and deserves to be placed with respect.
The curved corridor leading to the practice area through a misaligned opening has not only avoided the interference of sight and activity in front and back areas but also gained programmatic and characteristic independence from each other.
In the public space of the back area, the circulation is formed by two circular curves, guide people to go deeper naturally. The midsection of the wall, under a dynamic field of forces, forms into different radius curving walls; with the help of lights, giving the space material simplicity but formal complexity. The opening in front of the secondary entrance allows people to glimpse the activities within the small meditation room, stimulating curiosity and indicating the metaphor of "looking inward," which is the brand's motto.
An interlocking curving form-shaping technique was introduced to this space; this gesture allows an ordinary partition wall to become a monolithic piece with changing layers, depth, and programs embedded.
For the first store of FLOW, Super Rice Architects designed three meditation
spaces of various sizes:
1: Small Meditation Room
The space adopts a circular configuration. In a circular plan, there is no front and back; therefore, the practitioner and the coach can be in an equal state. In addition, the natural centripetal force of the circular space can deliver a sense of gathering & surrounding to practitioners, which allows them to obtain the power of stability.
The circular form has centripetal toward the center and centrifugal forces at the edge. Architects use the form-making the technique described above to make the four corners functional. As an entrance, display, window, and lighting not only solve the problem of wasted spaces in the circular plan but also connect the separated corners into a coherent whole. Within a circular configuration, one can feel the constant flow of energy. It creates a sense of rhythm.
2: Large Meditation Room
Drawing inspiration from the typology of the church architecture, a place for spiritual enrichment. The recognizable architectural component: the vault, was introduced as a central figure to govern the space. The vault illustrates a continuity and dialogue of tectonic through rotation, interspersion, and craving. The roof massing is sculptured by circular geometry's natural strengths and centripetal and centrifugal forces.
The metaphor of light is presented as the divine spirit serving as the guiding concept. The undulating vault is penetrated by varying spatial and lighting apertures that create a series of dramatic light scenes, scenes with solid/void, and light/dark. The intersection of light and darkness inspires the occupants' spiritual uplift and brings them inner peace.
3. Open Experience Room
A cylinder volume was carefully picked by the architects to place the program within. The circle has always been understood as a divine symbol, in contrast to the worldly rectangle. The challenge for this room is creating a dynamic movement with a sturdy geometry to maintain that fluidity sense of the space.
The ripple profile lines redefined the stable and symmetric cylinder form, these circles are distributed at different heights with different radii, and various circles overlap and interleave, creating a vibrancy structure with richness and complexity. A cone with centripetal, centrifugal, and uplifting natural forces were integrated into the cylinder interior. A sense of solidarity and tension is formed by manipulating the intricacy of cone geometry. The cylinder's interior mimics a stone cave, offering a sense of being surrounded and serenity. The curvature wall is designed explicitly for fine acoustics. All these manipulations are for the practitioner to achieve inner peace, awareness, and "looking inward."