Located on a street corner in Hong Kong’s Sia Ying Pun district, this 30-square-metre cafe designed by architecture firms Studio Etain Ho and Absence from Island pay homage to Uluru and Australia’s spectacular sunsets. Called Today is Long, the cafe is owned by a barista and a public-relations manager, who bonded over their shared love of coffee and the fact they’d both spent time studying and working in Australia.
Warm red-orange became the theme colour which also took reference from the sandstone monolith – Uluru in the Red Centre of Northern Australia. The texture of the baked earthy sandstone is also represented by the fired ceramic tiles anchored at the lower part of the facade.
The hemisphere of the setting sun has been applied in various ways on the facade. This helped form a facade with a strong geometrical language which distinguishes the cafe from its surroundings of old buildings. It allows the cafe to stand out and be noticed. One of the hemispheres became the welcome arch at the entrance which formed a short tunnel to transport customers from the hustle and bustle in Sai Ying Pun to the quiet and comfortable interior. Another formed a recessed wall pattern for the take-away counter. The third hemisphere was rotated sideways and formed the largest window to bring in as much natural light as possible. Apart from the facade, there was one full final circle in the interior which formed as the backdrop for the seating area.
Australia has always been blessed with abundant amounts of sunlight, thus a lot of white colour has been used together with the large windows to enhance the bright and airy atmosphere. And spaces have been reserved under the entrance arch, seating area and the overhead storage for plantings in order to create a green, lush and natural environment. Coffee grain used in the cafe will also be recycled as fertilisers for the plantings.
Sai Ying Pun, given its proximity to the University of Hong Kong, has been famous for its mix of locals and foreigners in recent years. And the idea of the cafe is a social hub is expressed by the seating arrangement – bench seating has been fitted in one triangular corner of the shop with the two rows facing each other. With the benches and the coffee counter arranged along the periphery of the cafe and with a focal point in the centre, the arrangement shall enhance interaction and create a sense of community. A thin bar table has also been designed on the facade for customers, especially dog-owners, to enjoy their coffee outdoors and to look into the cafe at the same time.