The BSTONY by Pildong2ga Architects

Located on Dolsan Island, South Korea, this inspiring café was designed in 2017 by Pildong2ga Architects.

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Description by Pildong2ga Architects

Project BSTONY lies on Dolsan Island, an island off the coast of Yeosu, South Jeolla Province. The island’s coastal route passes through small villages housing the lives and livelihoods of island locals. A twenty-minute drive down this road leads to an unassuming structure.

At the first meeting, the client requested a café with a garden and minimal housing capacity for mangement. The site was located at the bottom of Cheonwang Mountain and retained the natural slope of the foothills.

Starting the design was surprisingly simple, given the client’s request and site conditions. After visiting the site, the architects decided on two major strategies.

First, the café’s structure would not go against the topography of Cheonwang Mountain. As Dolsan Island gets more and more tourists each year, accommodation and commercial facilities have sprung up indiscriminately along the coastal road. Most of the new facilities each stands out on its own but are inharmonious. The project would add yet another structure to this scene. After deliberating over how to minimize damaging the natural landscape, the architects decided to minimize architectural conduct construction.

Second, the café’s material would not go against the scenery of Dolsan Island’s beautiful coastline. The architects chose finishes that would go well with the natural surroundings so that the café would remain congruous with its environment over time.

Because of the land’s slope, the café from outside the higher level looks as if it is buried underground. But the stairs inside open up to a spacious garden and panorama windows that show a picturesque view of the landscape, touching the hearts of onlookers like a serene watercolor painting would. The architects plotted a dry area between the retaining wall and cafe area on clear days, opening up the window fittings expands the area and allows for ambiguous space. Moreover, the dry space keeps the ground’s humidity from entering the café’s interior.

An important aspect in conceptualizing the project was the continuity of the interior and exterior space. The scenery out the windows would naturally draw the circulation of someone enjoying her coffee indoors outside. Anyone enjoying her coffee outside within the scenery would feel as if they were indoors. The architects designed around the concepts of continuous circulation, line of sight, and optimization of outdoor space, a rarity in urban areas. Stepping inside, the café’s interior space is quite simple. The café and garden (greenhouse) sit on a long 10m30m mass. Beyond the mass, the outdoor area is arranged in layers, the boundaries marked by materials. For example, for the café’s indoor area, the architects used a concrete finish; from where the café ends and garden begins, they selected wood. The outdoor space shares the same wooden finish as the indoor garden, but the open roof reveals much of the surrounding environment, magnifying the feeling of being outside. In addition, to emphasize directionality, the architects installed pendant lighting direction to focus the viewer’s line of sight. The space could have felt somewhat plain, but by filling it up with furniture, artwork, plants, and other décor, the architects made the potentially rigid space flexible.

By providing an inviting entryway and building a comfortable space for visitors who travel to the café, the architects intended to create a pleasantly surprising space, rather than merely present a physically imposing building. As a result, the structure, though potentially modest in appearance from the outside, houses a space inside where diverse areas coexist, providing comfort and serenity to those who visit the café.

Photography by Kyung Roh

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- by Matt Watts