Blue Bottle Coffee Samcheongdong is a minimalist cafe located in Seoul, South Korea, designed by Schemata Architects. This cafe is situated in front of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art next to the Deoksugung Palace in the old town of Seoul. Many traditional Korean houses called Hanok are clustered in this area. A three-story commercial building and a one-story Hanok stand side by side on the sitem and we designed a cafe occupying four floors of the buildings. Contexts of respective places are incorporated in the design in order to create four floors with respective characteristics.
In contrast with wide brick joints that are one of the unique characteristics of Korean architecture, bricks are laid with no joints, seamlessly connecting the stepped space continuing from the exterior floor to the interior floor and walls. The designers connected inside and outside in this way so that customers do not feel the relative distance and a gap between the road and the entrance. The continuous brick volume is partially raised here and there and turns into furniture pieces such as a display platform and an ordering counter. Going up to the second floor, one’s eye level becomes the same level as the roofs of the surrounding Hanocks.
They made large openings on the facade facing the Hanok cluster so that customers can enjoy the view of the dynamic roofs, and placed a cafe counter used as a main beverage bar serving expresso, drip coffee among others on the opposite side. Considering that customers in this seating area stay only for a short while, we installed cylinders made of cork in various sizes as seats. Then, going up to the third floor, a panorama of the palace and mountains beyond unfolds.
They installed a bar counter facing the magnificent view, and placed lounge chairs in the remaining space to offer two different ways of enjoying moments of relaxation. The Hanok next to the main building has a C-shaped floor plan with a central courtyard. We treated the three spatial zones respectively as a living room, dining room, and kitchen, and placed different types of furniture pieces accordingly. In these rooms, cafe staff members tend to customers on a one-on-one basis, which is a special type of service not offered in other Blue Bottle Coffee cafes. There is also a special approachway to the Hanok entrance, which only those who know the way around the Hanok cluster on the east side can access.
Photography by Kyungsub Shin
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