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Your pets dream vacation

Hangzhou-based design studio, Say Architects reimagine the pet grooming process at Nova Pets in a neutral-toned sanctuary of rejuvenation – treating your pets to the luxurious getaway that they deserve.



BY Emily Sutton

20 February, 2020


If you’re living in Sydney, you might be familiar with just how much people here love the weekend. It’s Saturday morning; the weekend crowd has gotten up, people are catching the surf, the locals and their baristas have their weekly catch-up and everyone is just bright eyed, early and buzzing that it’s the weekend. The weekend also means that it’s prime dog-spotting time – a highlight on the weekly calendar.

The city is spoilt with our variety of dogs – but living by the coast, you’re guaranteed to spot the squad of irresistibly adorable French Bulldogs, Cavoodles, Pomeranians, Golden Retrievers and sometimes when I’m lucky, the Cocker Spaniels and German Shepherds come out to play as well.

Apart from being completely distracted from the fact that we must have done something good in our past life to deserve these magical beings, I am always in awe of how beautifully groomed and put together they are. What’s their secret?

Hangzhou-based firm, Say Architects have the answer. The design studio wanted to bring the beauty of pet-care into the world. The evolution of the domestic pet into an emotional companion; everyday sidekick; and long-time best friend deserve the ultimate pampering experience.

Located in Hangzhou, China, Nova Pets is a new type of pet store – a place where pets and pet-owners can socialise and spend quality time with their best friends while they get groomed.

The 450 square-metre space features a sunken dining and café area, a personalised grooming service, cosmetology rooms, a sizeable paddling pool and a playground for the animals to socialise with others.

“[Nova Pets] is a place where people could really socialise with their pets. One could order two separate meals or drinks for one and one’s pet, but they could also just chat and drink coffee with friends while waiting,” expresses Say Architects.

Rectilinear in form and neutral-toned in colour, Nova Pets is divided into two parts – one as a café with a double-height ceiling and the other as a cosmetology salon spanning across two floors.

“Nova is quite deep in space, with very little exposure to the street. The big glass opening to the street shows the activities of pets and people in a frame – it draws people’s attention directly.”

The street-facing façade of Nova Pets features an expansive window ­– inviting the public to take a sneak peek inside. The pet playground and café sit at the front, with sunken seating areas and cosy nooks for owners to relax as they wait. This multi-level area creates a unique visual connection between pets and their owners.

While the guests are sitting within the sunken level, the pets are roaming free on the walking platforms, putting them together at head height. A concealed tunnel lies within the sunken valleys, where the animals are able to travel to and from the playground, with circular windows installed in the floor to let people see into.

Towards the back, there’s an activities room, a pet hotel for a staycation when their owners are away, and a VIP section.

A visual connection between the activities, the pets and their owners is consistent throughout the space. The stairs to the upper level has a diagonal slit to show the pet travel up and down. The swimming pool upstairs has 6 openings on the bottom that bring natural light down to the ground floor, while watching the pets swimming across the pool.

Next to the swimming pool is the office, an area for photo shoots and the cosmetology spaces. The second level is decorated with pops of colours – yellow, orange and blue tones sing throughout the space, adding a layer of playfulness and energy that complements the pared-back palette.

A central structural column sits, slightly tilted in the middle of the space. The column’s integrity and particularity reminded the design practice of a nova – a transient astronomical event that causes the sudden appearance of a bright star. The floor plan is divided into a grid-like structure, following Say Architects’ idea of a “nova network,” through crossing points made out of stainless steel crosses that lead to an invisible and orderly coordination within the space.

“We decided to integrate it with the idea of the space name, NOVA. We imagine this column to be the origin of the whole room, making the whole space revolve around the origin.”

Personally, there is no better way to spend your free time than watching the precious smile on your pet – in pure bliss, getting a luxury treatment of a lifetime.

Photography courtesy of Minjie Wang.

Article originally appeared in IndesignLive Australia


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