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Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum

After digging up a significant number of amber-encased insects and other preserved remains during its stone-mining operations, Yingliang Stone Group set out to build a dedicated place to display its unique collection. The company decided to convert part of its office in Xiamen, China, into a museum. To transition a third of the building from commercial offices into cultural institution, Atelier Alter Architects devised a reno centred around a dramatic, cave-like atrium. Concrete-clad gypsum boards slice through this open space and into the new first- and second floor galleries like sharp-edged stalactites. Some serve to bounce light down from the rooftop skylights; others act to buffer the workspaces still present on the office floors above. Dinosaur egg fossils might be the building’s star attraction, but its monumental architecture quickly proves to be a lasting wonder of its own.

Location Xiamen, China Firm Atelier Alter Architects, China Team Yingfan Zhang and Xiaojun Bu Photos Atelier Alter Architects

Cedric’s at the Shed

Launching a bar that makes an impression in crowded New York City is already a challenge. Rockwell Group had the added pressure of designing a space that would put an entirely new neighbourhood on the map. The firm’s strategy for Cedric’s at the Shed, the lobby lounge component of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed arts centre that anchors mega-district Hudson Yards, was to welcome newcomers into a space that already felt like home. Approachability defines the low ceilinged, living room–like environment filled with classic Knoll furniture, custom sectionals and kilim rugs. Of course, given that Cedric’s is the latest endeavour of star restaurateur Danny Meyer, the space still needed to cultivate an appropriate sense of occasion. Credit for that goes to the handsome zinc bar: Fronted with charred wood and lit by a custom teak and aluminum fixture, it faces an open kitchen partially conceale behind a beautifully crafted wooden screen. After all, every home needs to maintain some sense of mystery.

Location New York City, U.S. Firm Rockwell Group, U.S. Team David Rockwell and Greg Keffer with Liam Innes, Frances Calosso and Matthew Winter Photo Emily Andrews

Green Massage

A busy Shanghai shopping mall might not seem the most obvious location for a spa that channels the stillness of the cosmos. Yet the moment you’re inside, Green Massage feels light years removed from its hectic setting thanks to its celestial design concept, which draws on the symbolism of the moon. To best evoke the craters and plains of the lunar landscape, Vermilion Zhou Design Group adopted a textural grey palette — applied to the walls with concrete paint — and embraced round, organic edges in place of sharp angles. Light strips installed in reveals between the walls and ceiling introduce a soft, soothing glow, while miniature moon fixtures by artist Yang Yong Liang are stationed on the ground and walls to lead guests on their journey through the spa and toward a deep, restorative reset.

Location Shanghai, China Firm Vermilion Zhou Design Group, China Team Kuang Ming (Ray) Chou with Mavis Huang, Chia Huang Liao, Vera Chu, Reykia Feng and Garvin Hung Photo Yunpu Cai

Tori Tori Santa Fe

In conceiving Tori Tori Santa Fe — the fifth in a series of popular Japanese restaurants in Mexico City — Esrawe Studio assembled thoughtful references to both contemporary and historic Japan. In line with the restrained purity synonymous with the country, the project contrasts a predominantly dark interior with finely crafted light wood accents. Two suspended totems constructed from slanted holm oak panels, artfully arranged to recall the rectangular plates of ancient Samurai armour, are internally illuminated to provide mood lighting. One of these majestic glowing structures doubles as a cylindrical extraction hood above the restaurant’s signature teppanyaki table, where guests can watch their food being cooked right in front of them. Another treat for the eyes: the main wall adorned with a relief pattern featuring geometric graphics based on kanji characters. Forget offering a taste of Japan — Tori Tori Santa Fe serves up a full visual feast.

Location Mexico City, Mexico Firm Esrawe Studio, Mexico Team Héctor Esrawe and Heisei Carmona with Vanessa Ortega, Viviana Contreras, Abraham Carrillo, Enrique Tovar, Fabián Dávila, Cristina Margain, Roberto González, Lilian Betancourt and Javier García-Rivera Photos César Béjar

AZ Awards 2020: Awards of Merit in Commercial and Institutional Interiors

The awards of merit in Interiors: Commercial and Institutional range from atmospheric restaurants in Madrid and New York to a Chinese fossil museum and an other-worldly massage parlour.

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