- Architect In Charge:PHTAA Living Design
Text description provided by the architects. Coffee culture in Bangkok has until recently involved the idea of spending time in a space which has a clear definition of what Thai people believe a café to be. Coffee No. 9 in Soi Ari, with its limited space, needed to go against this trend and looked for cues overseas where the focus was more on the drink and less about the time spent.
Limitations of any kind require creativity in design. In this case, the interior space is 80% taken up with the coffee preparation area leaving only 20% for seating. Fortunately, the small coffee bar has an external space by the street, which the landlord allowed the owners to use, providing the space could be used by other customers of the restaurants in the precinct, of which Coffee No 9 belonged. The landlords also required the space to be available to pedestrians passing by, as a way of giving back to the street.
For the interior, space is saved by using a bench seat with upside down U-shaped stainless steel tables that can be rearranged and locked into grooves in the bench thereby creating flexible seating patterns. The tables can either be shared when between people, or used to separate small groups. For the external space, customers can use the seating to wait for their takeaway order or stay to drink. Street furniture uses concrete, steel and fiber cement for seating or as tables. There is also the option of standing next to the wall with eleven mini marble built-in shelves. Altogether the idea for the exterior space was to be a “fast-stop point” for coffee purchases.
A playfully-designed large timber “gate” is used to create visual impact on the street, and clearly indicate whether the café is open or closed. In the closed position, the gate shuts the ordering window, while allowing the awning above to pass through it, and secures the café during closing hours. When opened, cut-outs in the gate allow the shelves to pass through it, so it fits snugly against the wall.