This is an ice cream specialty shop located in the Dongshankou community of Guangzhou. In several rounds of discussion with the owner, who is also an ice cream maker, we found that her vision for the shop was contradicting： on the one hand, with social phobia, she hoped the shop to be an enclosed space that can give her enough security to focus on her work; on the other hand, she also wanted to create a cozy environment that allowed her to engage with the customers to talk about the making and the flavours of the ice cream and make friends with ice cream lovers. Our design concept emerged from this contradicting emotion of fear and curiosity of the outside world.
Located in the corner of the ground floor lobby of a commercial building, the ice cream shop occupies a space that is usually reserved for temporary pop-up shops. However, the owner eventually decided to set up a more permanent stand here, so the in-between state of the location becomes one of the major design constraints. This situation required the shop structure to be durable enough for an extended period of use without using conventional building techniques for retail stores.
With that in mind, we introduced a 600mm thick wall as the shop’s interface between the inside and outside. It created a physical barrier between the ice-cream maker and her customers. Next, we imagined this thick wall as a tub of ice cream and scoop it out with varying degrees of strength, thus creating pits of different depths. Using this analogy, we created three types of interfaces within the wall. A few light scoops corresponded to shallow dents on the fa?ade, which assumed the function of a backdrop for customers to take photos during their visits. With a bit more strength for a slightly deeper scoop, the carve became a seating. The deepest scoop carved a hole out of the wall, which was turned into a window where the interaction between the inside and outside takes place. Using this method, we designed a device that allowed the shop to have varying degrees of engagement： from being protected from the outside to being able to connect with the outside.
In terms of materials, we also wanted to respond to the client’s contradicting emotion of a social phobia and curiosity of the outside, so we chose two sets of materials that contrast with the other. The primary material of the wall was solid glass brick with rough textures, establishing an allusion of ruggedness and isolation. The material for the scooped-out area was made from CNCed laminate of wood and solid surface; this two-tone material combination gave a warm and welcoming vibe that would encourage customer to approach and interact with the installation.
The resulting structure was both delightful to look at and practical to use. One of our client’s favorite parts was the “tree hole”, a name they gave to the biggest hole in the structure. On the inside, the ice cream maker could work at peace while still acknowledging the external environment. When she took the initiative to poke her head out of the “tree hole” to engage with people outside, the tree hole became a platform for human connection. The cocooned ice cream shop created a safe space for our client to nest in, at the same time, allowing her to communicate with the outside when she felt comfortable. In the end, we have designed a structure with scooped out elements that answered to the owner’s contradicting emotion of social phobia and curiosity to the outside world.
Project Name：Turtlehill Icecream
Designer：Turtlehill Architecture and Design
Design & Completion Year：2022.5
Principal： Jason Guo
Project Architect： Ziju Xian
Project Team： Siyi Feng, Yueru Gu, Yinxi Rong, Meijun Li
Project Location：Guangzhou Dongshankou
Gross Building Area：9 square meters
Photo Credits：Zhi Zhong
Lighting Design：Qiuyue Wang
Brands / Products used in the Project：Glass brick, Plywood, Engineered Stone