Japanese firm Schemata Architects has recently completed the first Blue Bottle Coffee café in South Korea. The sparsely-decorated cafe is situated in Seoul’s artsy Seongsu neighbourhood, surrounded by craft coffee bars and organic eateries that occupy disused warehouses.
The building accommodating the store is situated along a major road leading to the city center of Seoul. It is a four-story building with a basement and the store occupies three floors from the basement to the second floor, using the basement as a cafe, the first floor as a roastery and a coffee beans storage room, and the second floor as an office.
One can see the entire coffee preparation process from bringing in green coffee beans to roasting to brewing in this building. The facility also accommodates spaces for specific purposes including cupping (the process of observing the tastes and aromas of coffee) and barista training and is expected to serve as the base of BBC’s store development expected in Korea from now on.
The main reason for locating a cafe in the basement is that the first floor faces a major road with heavy traffic and the view from inside is not very pleasant, in addition to the fact that the basement has high ceilings. Part of the first-floor slab was punched out to create a cafe with a double-height ceiling in the basement. The cafe in the basement provides a calm and peaceful space away from the bustle on the ground.
Taking advantage of the fact that stainless steel is less expensive in Korea than in Japan, Schemata used this material to make various elements including sidewalls of counters, stairs, handrails, and doors.
In addition, bricks are a historic construction material used to build many buildings in Seongsu and this building is also finished with brick tiles. “As a mark of respect for the history, we decided to use the material also inside the building and made some pieces of furniture out of bricks,” explains Schemata.