Hacking Coffee Roasters
When architecture is a living machine

Starting his career as a programmer and becoming an award-winning barista later on, the owner has gathered experiences and sought good coffee beans from reasonably priced sources to ensure cups of aromatic coffee are served to coffeeholics at a price affordable by everyone. These concepts combined shaped up a café called Hacking Coffee Roasters, the name of which was derived from a term used in the programming field. The old place, also originally a café, was renovated by an interior designer of the new generation, Context Studio, to embrace all visitors with sci-fi vibes, in combination with Cyber Punk, giving a look of a living machine.

The building seems like it is functioned by a computerized system

Based on the given requirements and concepts that were quite specific and evident, Mr. Ton-Bodin Pangkoon, the designer in charge, decided to blend some futuristic elements with his idea, mingling them with a little dystopian touch to create a sense of sci-fi that many people are familiar with. The theme starts from the entrance, which was designed to have a mysterious, yet interesting, look by being hidden on one side with a clear boundary, using a long wall made from burnt pine that comes in black tones.

For the main structure, whether columns, beams, or glass windows, Mr. Ton chose to maintain all the original forms. What he did was just to add some elements of machinery to enhance the overall theme by lining electrical circuits on some parts of the walls or the columns. Some of those circuits are meters bought from antique stores while some were bought directly from the electricity authority. Then, he casted and smashed the concrete wall along a marked pattern to obtain a realistic effect and make it look like it’s decaying to reveal the natural textures with also recycled materials being used to decorate the entire space.

“To reflect the name and the concept of the café, we discussed with the owner and came to a conclusion that we wanted customers to feel that the whole building is functioned by hidden computers, thus the walls, once we broke the structure, revealed computer circuit boards. By masking the entire building, we’ve put a great effort to make it look like a machine.” Ton said.

Mysterious, yet open for interactions with all visitors

At the center of the café, it locates the main counter that functions like a Central Processing Unit (CPU) of a computer. At some parts of the wall, there are also wires joining at the center to fit with the theme. For the main coffee bar, the designer decided to use mountain stones bought from Suphan Buri, which offer a rugged texture that contrasts with the hi-tech or futuristic image, for other parts of the building to boast a perfect blend.

Embraced by the sci-fi gimmicks at the entrance, you will notice the coffee roaster zone on your right, which was designed to be a glass room. The design enables customers to enjoy the atmosphere of the coffee roasting while ordering their cups. Next to the bar counter and go a little bit further to the back, which also gives a mysterious look, it lays the Omakase Room, which serves a special coffee course and requires advance reservation. This room was designed as if it were hidden from the entrance. It is like one of the secret characters from a sci-fi movie.

Talking about the interior space, the floor is partially lifted to feature seating steps. The gimmick is complemented by long benches which were designed to fill the café with a cozy atmosphere that tantalizes all guests to relish the taste of coffee. It is indeed different from the old café, which was just for customers to sit and work on their laptop all day long. Next to the bench zone, there is a façade that helps shade the light. It is controllable, so you can choose to close or open it to activate movements of the building, like it is a real machine.

(Plaster wall with texture like in the cyber world)

(Specially-made movable furniture based on the forms of old-fashioned computers)

The landscape goes well with the architecture and interior spaces

Next to the back of the building, it boasts both a garden for recreation and a space connected to the parking lot. So, this backyard becomes another entrance for those who drive. Mr. Ton also designed this space to give the look of a living machine, but further gave a distinctive feature using pipes or electric meters ordered directly from the factory for decoration. However, Mr. Ton reflected his concerns that “How to make the entire building look naturally beautiful and not overwhelmed with decorations? We are afraid that the building will not look like architecture. Will it just look like a prop? So, it must give a realistic look (which means we have to actually work on it).”

Some of the decorative pipes are thus practically used in the owner’s coffee roasting room so that the decoration and the function can go together seamlessly.

To not focus much on the maintenance of the outdoor landscape, large trees were not an option. Anyway, the designer could still manage to create a calm atmosphere and shadiness, with a background sound of flowing water. The well was formed by casting concrete blocks to resemble the characteristics of an electrical circuit, of which the key part is at the middle and supplies the energy to the other small parts to ensure it circulates.

 “Sci-Fi is something I personally love. So, if I need to build my own house with the theme, its essence won’t be distorted. All the ideas are always in my head. This project was full of joy. I knew what the owner wanted. All parts came out perfectly.” Ton concluded.

As the initial requirements were quite clear, there was a question popping up in their mind, ‘How far could the final design possibly be? How much detail does it need to fulfill the atmosphere? These all are to ensure everyone in this building feels perfectly comfortable with the concept. This Hacking Coffee Roasters is another example of a themed coffee shop that tried to play with details, whether in terms of architectural structure, interior design, landscape work, or other decoration to achieve a synchronous effect perfectly.

Client : Hacking Coffee Roasters 
LOCATION : Bangkok, Thailand
AREA : 680 sqm
Photography : DOF SKY|GROUND Photography

Rangsima Arunthanavut

Rangsima Arunthanavut