The design ideal that form should follow function, i.e. the design of a thing or of a place should arise organically from its purpose, is one that often goes ignored here in Ningbo in favor of pretty things that don’t have a whole lot of utilitarian value. This is especially true when it comes to coffee shops around the city; often cute to look at but also awkward.
Roadlong Cafe, which sits on Taikang Lu adjacent to UNNC, is a cafe where form refreshingly follows function. Its choice of location, along with the excellent little bar Z-Life a few doors down, exists for the university crowd. It’s clear that the people who designed and set up Roadlong knew damn good and well who their clientele were to be and tailored it directly to their needs.
You couldn’t ask for a better place to study or plan lessons. The design features several private little nooks with comfy armchairs and soft and sufficient lighting—a perfect place to curl up with one’s homework or a mountain of papers to grade. There are also areas more suited to conversation, along with a big table that could be used for small seminars or discussions.
However the niftiest feature is the print and copy station right there in the shop. Any student or teacher can attest to having hours of good study vibes ruined by the last minute panic of where to print or copy something. The folks at Roadlong know your struggle, and they’ve gone out of their way to provide you with a few extra minutes of prep (or nap) time before getting to it. It’s a great example of someone identifying the purpose of a place and running with it. Form following function to the nth degree.
It’s also really nice to see one of these coffee houses feature Chinese stuff. The classical paintings and calligraphy adorning the walls are a nice touch for people who aren’t trying to escape the idea that they’re living in China.
The cafe offers most of the foods you’d expect with a picture menu and has a small but pleasing selection of beers and liquors. The coffee itself is on par with most of the artisan spots in the city, and they have a decent selection of teas and fruit juices. The eats and drinks at Roadlong are nothing new or special, but like everything else at the cafe they are perfectly suited for the clientele.
155 Taikang Lu (Opposite UNNC Campus)