5th Element Coffee Bar

Madison, Wisconsin

The owners of 5th Element Coffee Bar approached OPN Architects to design the company’s first coffee shop. Located in a first-floor unit of a mixed-use building adjacent to a university hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, the owners wanted to create a space that was more than just a conveyor belt of coffee; they wanted a space that promoted customer interaction, with one another, the servers behind the bar, and the physical elements of the space.

Accountability was a driving factor behind the concept of 5th Element. The design team utilized raw materials to reflect the company’s mission of being real and honest. Old bowling alley lanes were reclaimed and re-purposed for the front bar, larger community tables in the rear, and as accents on the walls. The warm wood transitions to a galvanized sheet steel finish at the point of sale, which is further reinforced in the suspended ceiling plane above the counter made of large scale sheets of steel. This ceiling plane serves to mitigate the sound transmissions to the residential floor above. The walls were left raw, exposing bricks of concrete with steel paneling. The theme of authenticity pulls through every aspect of the design; not a single piece of plastic or drop of laminate was used.

In all, the elegant use of a few honest materials are leveraged to define the space, a design aesthetic in-line with the owner’s principles of using only the most authentic ingredients to create a pure flavor. 5th Element Coffee Bar opened in June 2015.

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