Mindmade - a 50 square meter café that covers the outside while leaving the inside open to leverage natural light.

In the Asoke neighborhood, where the traffic is heavy, together with the afternoon heat, we sneak into Sukhumvit Soi 10 to find a café to cool off and there we found Mindmade, a compact 50 square meter bakery and café that creates attractiveness via its opaque exterior and high roof, which allow the light from outside to enter inside, giving off a Japanese vibe as if bringing Japan to the heart of Bangkok! This café was designed by Ourour.

Let the café whisper softly but thoroughly heard

The owner intended to repurpose the storage space and the old maid’s room into a modest bakery and café with a Japanese vibe. Instead of shining a spotlight on the building, the owner wants it to whisper, just enough for passers-by to notice this café.

Concealed exterior with a curved entry door, scooped to the inside.

The architect designed the façade to be completely covered in order for the building to blend in with the surroundings and to create a peaceful internal environment. It is also owing to the fact that the building is adjacent to the road, making it unlawful to construct access gates. Therefore, the entrance part was hollowed out deep inside and a wooden door was installed for the entrance, creating a triangular area that could create interest in the interior space.

Raise the gable roof to allow light to pass through.

Originally, the storage area and the old maid’s room were fully covered, with no light passing through.  The architect, therefore, decided to raise the gable roof so that the light from the east and west enters the building through the glass window. As the sun goes down, yellow lights hidden in the roof structure and interior lights shine through those openings, establishing the store’s focal point.  A skylight is also built in the kitchen area, allowing sunlight to strike the ground in the late morning and midday, reflecting off the wall and producing shade for the kitchen.

“We choose to use circle lights inside the building and round doorknobs to brake the squareness of the building, trimming off the taste of square details.”

The pole grid is designed as a modular system based on the original building.

As for the structure, the interesting thing is that the original column grid is positioned as a Modular system that can precisely divide by 7, such as the distance of 2.8 and 3.5 meters, making the design of the new steel rafters and reinforced concrete columns remain in the same grid style. The designer also incorporates gimmicks such as a rafter structure in the middle of each span to make the building walls appear as smooth as possible.

“All new steel columns have been constructed at the whole front of the building, referring to the original reinforced concrete columns of the innermost walls, and the existing columns have been strengthened with steel boxes to allow for the installation of windows. It not only lets light in, but it also displays the rafter structure. Looking in through the transparent windows from the outside, the Seamless roof seems thin, and passersby could assume the inside is a café.”

Use plywood that resembles the color of homemade bread crusts.

Because it is a bread shop, the architect interpreted the color of the homemade bread crust as a choice of plywood materials to cover the entire building’s reinforced concrete and steel boxes. In addition, rough-surfaced walls are employed throughout the region. The sunshine will gradually touch the wall in the late afternoon, producing a shadow that lends dimension to the wall.

Built-in furniture that can be modified to function.

With such a compact space, the owner wanted the kitchen to be as functional as possible. The kitchen’s built-in table was meant to serve two overlapping purposes. First, there’s the dough preparation section, which may be accessed by pulling the folding table up. When it’s time to open the shop, this piece of the table may be pushed down to provide room for standing at the counter to greet customers. Moreover, the table at the counter’s entry may be pushed in and out to form a counter dedicated to selling and serving food.

“In the design of the table in the kitchen, we will always work with the owner to come up with a familiar working size for dough making, but the size must also be in the modular system of the building.”

Aluminum strips are installed on the back edge to avoid backflow.

As the exterior wooden ceiling collides with the gutter, black aluminum strips are put along the roof’s edge to prevent rainwater from running back into the wood. In order for the roof to seem smooth and flat, the gutter was built to be smaller than typical, resulting in a smooth appearance that fits perfectly into the roof ridge. Internal walls and flooring are likewise detailed, with grooving and aluminum strips linking the two portions.

A compact space, yet with an interesting perspective.

“When designing this cafe, we first start considering the size of the space and the overall picture. Then, we delve into each aspect of the Modular system that is unique and enhances those perspectives to be more intense, such as a triangle of the doorway that we curved the angle to trim the corners of the building, allowing the afternoon light hits the walls. Despite the space’s modest size, its constraints provide an immensely intriguing feature of the space.”

Watsapon Vijitsarn

Watsapon Vijitsarn