- Design Team : Pham Vu Manh, Nguyen Thi Khanh Nguyen, Nguyen Hoang Minh Khoa, Ngo Phat Tai, Huynh Nhat Khang
- Clients : Okkio Caffe
- City : Ho Chi Minh City
- Country : Vietnam
Text description provided by the architects. Okkio is a specialty coffee shop located in a small alley on Duy Tan Street. It occupies an old French colonial villa, an authentic half of a semidetached villa among a few that remain in the neighborhood. Duy Tan fondly recalls the memory of our beloved Saigon. Surviving the ups and downs of the city history, century-old parashorea trees stand tall along the pavements. Fortunately, the villa condition exceeds our expectation of time impact despite being quite aged.
Okkio means “eye” in Italian. Okkio considers himself as an observer, in the nowness, in between what is to happen and what has been gone. Okkio space consists of the front villa, a new two-story block at the back and a garden. All are connected by an enclosed walkway.
The space is a continuing dialogue between the old and the new. It contrasts by defining clear borders, or homogenizes by blurring joints. There is a conversation at every junction: at the demarcation between buildings and context; through the walkway coming from the old villa to the new block; between exposed old-grey-solid brick wall and sand texture painted new wall; at the replacement of raw galvanized steel for broken window frames, door frames as well as the old balcony handrails; even the stainless-steel surfaces that blur the definition of ‘new’ materials.
The stainless-steel and cooper brew bar occupies most of the villa first floor. It situates to the left from the main entrance. Concrete floor and skirting, applied to the whole villa, resemble the concrete steps of the original staircase. Coming upstairs to the second floor, one is immediately welcomed by natural states of materials: concrete floor and skirting, off-white sand texture painted and exposed old-grey-solid brick walls, raw galvanized steel, polished stainless steel, black leather and monochrome finish wood. Okkio reminds itself about own history by highlighting the precious existing wooden roof structure with a giant mirror.
The garden is a buffer zone between the old villa and the new block. The walkway divides it into two parts: a patio and a courtyard. Glass louvers along the walkway subtly define the inside and the outside. They absorb, reflect both light and the surroundings. The red epoxy floor draws one’s attention from front to back. At the back of second floor, the view is suddenly widened. It covers the entire garden and the surroundings.
Craftsmanship is a key element across the space in light of Okkio’s core value of specialty coffee. The excellent local craftsmanship is beautifully reflected throughout the smallest interior details.