“The project started with an idea of creating a new type of pet store, a place where people could really socialize with their pets,” said Say Architects, which was founded by Yan Zhang and Jianan Shan in 2016. “Say Architects has two cats and one dog, so we like everything related to pets. Therefore the project proceeded quite smoothly.”
Called Nova Pets, the 450 square-meters space is occupied by a double-height cafe and a part playground for a half, while the two-floor grooming salon split across the other half.
“After analyzing the different activity areas and types of pets in the space, we marked each area with a different color to represent the intensity of the activities. The warmer the color, the more intense the area,” explains the design team.
Every space revolves around an existing, slightly tilted concrete column that sits at the center of the floor plan. The studio compares the column to a Nova — this is from where the salon takes its name. The column also serves as a center point for a meter-by-meter square grid that appears across half of the floor plan. The grid is marked by a series of stainless-steel crosses that are embedded in the concrete floor of the cafe, playground and entrance area.
“All program and events are happening around the column. Their material or angle is nothing like the column, but this difference itself creates an interesting feeling of narrative,” explained the practice. “We imagine this column to be the origin of the whole room. All program and events are happening around the column. Their material or angle is nothing like the column, but this difference itself creates an interesting feeling of narrative.”
The side that is facing the street, which is the only part next to the street, is dedicated to the pet activity area and is separated from the entry area using a fence. The touching of the doorknob is the first handshake before entering the space, therefore the design team translates the floor plan of the cafe area into a stainless steel doorknob. This random but also logical shape becomes the first impression of the space.
The cafe area has two sunken curvy valleys for dining and relax. The height difference creates an interesting visual connection, when pets are in the walking area and guests are in the lower valley, the visual height is about the same. Pets could travel between two sunken valleys freely and easily with a tunnel between them.
On the ground floor, there is an activity room, a “hotel” where cats and dogs can stay while their owners are away, and a toilet. Upstairs there are cosmetology rooms, an office, a designated space for photoshoots and a swimming pool, the bottom of which is punctuated with six circular windows that offer views of paddling pets to those in the activity room below.