A photo of the interior of Nemesis showing the full service counter.
A photo of the interior of Nemesis showing the full service counter.

Nemesis Coffee at Great Northern Way

Vancouver, British Columbia
Synergistic Interaction

Nemesis is a young coffee company with aspirations to build community and create culture. Inspired by the team’s newly built sculptural Pavilion on the Great Northern Way campus, the company chose to adopt the landmark building to help establish themselves as a recognizable brand and transform Vancouver’s coffee scene.

The design team’s approach was to complement the architecture and create a memorable experience: the interior details subtly reveal the unique architecture, add refinement, and bring delight. Celebrating the petal geometry, a light flowing fabric traces the interior silhouette of the organic forms, acting as acoustic panels and creating a glowing play of light. A mirrored back-of-house pod floats inside, putting the coffee roasting and commercial kitchen on display.

Designed to create synergy between the architecture, the interior, and the brand, the new Nemesis coffeehouse is destined to be the social hub of the emerging neighbourhood campus.

“Joining forces with Perkins&Will, who share a similar creative passion, we were able to create a coffeehouse that embodies our vision as a conduit for culture.”

― Jess Reno, Nemesis Co-Founder & Owner

The plaza blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Transformation of Space

Acting as a catalyst for connection and a cultural inspiration to the emerging arts and design community, the space is designed to transform from coffee shop functions in the morning, to lively gathering and event space at night. Acting as a social anchor to the new campus, the coffeehouse provides a rich experience and continuum of inspiration to the community.

What Makes It Cool
Interior details subtly reveal the unique architecture, celebrating the organic forms of petal geometry.
Biophilic Design

Inspired by nature, the building form replicates a flower externally and strengthens the connection through seamless interior design and thoughtful use of materials. The use of natural light, natural materials and design techniques that reference movements that occur in nature, make the space feel like a living, breathing organism, bringing the building occupants closer to the natural environment.

Creative Solutions Through Collaboration

Conversations about our vision for the space resulted in unique opportunities for collaboration. During a discussion about the project with Tetherstone Construction, we discovered the perfect solution to creating the striking fabric fins was material commonly used within the film industry in lighting balloons. This material illuminates the space by reflecting light, is flexible enough to trace the silhouette of the building, and is delicate enough to cause a gentle ripple with a flow of air.

Back-of-house coffee roasting station.
Light and Reflection

The project materials capitalize on the effects of light and reflection. For the ceiling and walls, the exposed Birch plywood provides warmth and illuminates the interior spaces, reflecting ambient light and creating a neutral but animated backdrop for the coffeehouse.

Reflective and mirrored surfaces dematerialize a highly functional back-of-house pod while providing a gradient of visual transparencies: from low-iron vision glass allowing full display of the coffee roastery, to one-way mirror glass partially obscuring a bustling kitchen and opaque mirrors in front of the washrooms. This use of reflective material also enables visitors to perceive the full organic volume of the space.

Reflective surface at service station and kitchen.
Architects Rufina Wu and Yehia Madkour sit down with Nemesis founder Jess Reno to share the story behind our design for Nemesis Great Northern Way.

Project Team

Ryan Bragg
Rufina Wu
Yehia Madkour