Blog : Cafe

Ruen Lek: A Modern Cottage Café Celebrates the Enduring Allure of Chanthaburi

Ruen Lek: A Modern Cottage Café Celebrates the Enduring Allure of Chanthaburi

/ Chanthaburi, Thailand /

/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut, Kangsadan K. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

A home and café combination merges into the countryside vernacular of Chanthaburi, a province in Thailand’s eastern corridor bestowed with pristine forests, mountains and sea breezes. Designed for the Tropical climate prevailing in the area, it boasts the simplicity of extended eaves overhanging the walls. Together they provide protection from the elements keeping the interior cozy and cool in summer, while the gable front glazed using clear glass affords the view of a beautiful garden landscape.

Named “Ruen Lek”, the small contemporary home consists of two parts; a semi-outdoor café located downstairs and a living space upstairs with wrap-around balconies made for coffee or just chilling out.

The brainchild of GLA Design Studio, a Bangkok-based architectural practice, the home and café combination offers 110 square meters of usable space. It stands parallel to a nearby homestay destination called “Baan Lek Villa”, separated only by a center courtyard lying in between.

The upstairs living space with a garden view is enclosed by a wrap-around balcony made for coffee and floor seating ideas.

By design, the yard filled with greenery and fresh air provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, while lush lawns hemmed in by healthy trees and shrubs create a cooling effect during warm weather.

A diagram of the first floor plan shows the positioning of the coffee shop, customer service areas and support facilities in relation to outdoor environments. / Courtesy of GLA Design Studio
A drawing of the second floor plan shows the living space with a home office enclosed by a wrap-around balcony made for relaxation. / Courtesy of GLA Design Studio
A front elevation view shows the small home and café combination on the right side of the property, separated from the main homestay villa on the left by a center courtyard filled with greenery. / Courtesy of GLA Design Studio

Thoughtfully devised to run cool in summer, the first floor is kept closer to the ground, slightly raised at plinth level. For good ventilation, the storefront and a side wall are fitted with bi-fold door systems that fully open from one end to the other, while the other side wall lined with a souvenir display shelf is glazed using clear glass paneling for visibility.

Awning windows at the top of the glass wall open to admit fresh outdoor air. Underneath them, glass paneling lined with a souvenir display shelf lets natural daylight shine through.

The coffee bar itself is set further towards the back with plenty of room behind it for cooking light meals. From here, the nearby “Baan Lek Villa” homestay can be seen across the center courtyard. Up front, a few sets of tables and shares are ready for customers who prefer relaxing and dining in the open air.

A place to hang out with friends, the coffee bar is set further towards the back, creating a sense of depth. There’s plenty of room behind the countertop for making drinks and cooking light meals.

Taken as a whole, the small café makes a good first impression as a peaceful place to enjoy a nice cup of bean juice, lean back and chill. Besides good local food, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, thanks in part to the crisp cool canopy of overhanging trees, native shrubs and vines thriving luxuriantly. Together they bring back memories of Chanthaburi in times past like the architects at GLA Design Studio intended.

The second floor contains a humble abode and office space with a large drafting table. Simple, well-lit and well-ventilated, the room is enclosed by a wrap-around balcony designed for sitting on the floor with legs hanging. The side entrance at the top of the stairs affords views of green spaces and, beyond, the Baan Lek Villa homestay. For privacy, the second floor of Ruen Lek is set slightly lower than that of the main villa.

The upstairs living space with a garden view is enclosed by a wrap-around balcony made for coffee and floor seating ideas.

For privacy, the second floor of the home and café building is set slightly lower than that of the nearby main villa.

Except for the glass façades on two sides, the walls are built of handmade bricks and the floors covered in fireclay handmade tiles sourced locally. For charm, good looks that blend into the community and local traditions, door and window casings and decorative materials are made entirely of real wood.

Morning light creates a warm ambience, enhancing the brown of wooden balcony floors and the orange of fireclay tiles on the home office floor.

From a design point of view, it’s a home that speaks volumes for a desire to be close to nature and a love of the allure of Chanthaburi’s unspoiled countryside. And the team at GLA Design Studio has succeeded in doing exactly that. The result is a cozy dwelling that’s a little bit modern, a little bit country mixed in one place that’s simple yet attractive, inviting and warm.

A center courtyard filled with shade trees and lush foliage separates the home and café combination from the nearby Baan Lek Villa homestay.
A way to connect with nature, the center courtyard is kept cool by shade trees and lush vegetation. Nearby, a driveway surfaced with gravel gives access to the main villa raised on piles.

Architect: GLA Design Studio

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Mitbury the Public House: A Café in Pastel Brown Humbly Camouflaged in Nature’s Embrace

BAAN LEK VILLABaan Lek Villa: A House-Cum-Homestay in Chanthaburi

Mitbury the Public House: A Café in Pastel Brown Humbly Camouflaged in Nature’s Embrace

Mitbury the Public House: A Café in Pastel Brown Humbly Camouflaged in Nature’s Embrace

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Kangsadan K. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Prueksakun Kornudom, Ornpailin Leelasiriwong /

Tucked away amidst the crisp mountain air and dense green plants thriving under tree cover, a quaint country café takes center stage giving off friendly vibes. It’s enclosed by glass walls on three sides, while perimeter fence walls of large breeze blocks in pastel brown speak volumes for the humble origins of mankind.

Lying furthest from everything else, a lazy brook passes by reflecting sunlight glistening with sparkles in misty winds. Aptly named “Mitbury the Public House”, the café and nearby support buildings merge into the cool shade of wooded hills in the backdrop. It’s arguably the most exquisite kind of scenery. And it’s located right here in Mae Rim District, only a short ride from Chiang Mai’s city center.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the aroma of coffee beans being ground and roasted in the background smells like heaven. There’s nothing like chilling out, sipping one’s favorite Morning Brew on a quiet day at nature’s edge.

The project comprises three small buildings with a chic coffee bar located at the center of the property. The other two buildings lie hidden in plain sight behind the walls of perforate blocks in muted brown designed to promote ventilation and regulate sunlight. The coffee bar itself affords 140 square meters of restaurant space canopied by overhanging trees.

A charcoal sketch of the premises illustrates the positioning of the café and two support buildings enclosed by a perforate wall and surrounding terrain features. / Courtesy of WOS Architects
A side-elevation view of the café building in cross section, silhouetted against a breeze block wall lying under the canopy of overhanging trees / Courtesy of WOS Architects

The brainchild of WOS Architects, a Bangkok-based architectural practice, Mitburi the Public House is a design masterpiece that seeks reconnections with the natural world.

Walk in the door, and you find an ample space used for guests and seating. Interestingly, the rough textured wall in soft pastel beige at the back is the sight to behold. It stands overlooking the space used for preps, the coffee bar and kitchen.

From a distance, a paved passageway glides past lush lawns leading to first building that houses the café and kitchen. The second building holds storage space and staff quarters, while the third is a complete toilet building. By design, they lie hidden from view behind the perforate brick walls.

A footbridge gives access to nearby wooded hills. It’s built of structural I-beam framing, with wooden planks and railings of wire infill panels for protection against slip and fall accidents.

All of them are built of structural steel framing. Where appropriate, the exterior walls are crafted of natural building materials sourced from within the community. Immediately appealing among them is the floor tiled in grayish brown. It lies covered with thin slabs of baked clay from a local kiln, creating charm, good looks that embrace imperfect simplicity.

For visual continuity, the café building itself is enclosed by glass walls on three sides, with a pair of transom windows at the top of the front door. A clean, well-lighted place, the interior is warm and welcoming, thanks to pale soft lights that are less distracting, adding romantic appeal to the room.

From inside the café, glass walls provide undisrupted visual continuity between indoors and outdoors. The floor is tiled in reddish brown slabs fired the old-fashioned way by a local kiln, the beauty of imperfections that blends with the surroundings.
The café building stands among the trees, enclosed by glass walls on three sides. They open to admit natural daylight and fresh outdoor air into the room.

Out-of-doors, yard landscaping ideas are just impressive. Perforate blocks in reddish brown fill up the entire boundary fence, blending seamlessly into the dark green of the forest’s edge. Located furthest to the rear, a footbridge built of steel I-beams, wooden planks and wire infill railings provide access to nearby forested hills.

Attention to detail is evidenced by the breeze block fence in muted brown that separates the business premises into clearly defined zones depending on functionality.
The complete toilet building stands hidden from view, separated from nearby lush lawns and café space by a wall of perforate bricks for ventilation.

The I-beams are painted a grayish green hue that merges into large areas of old woodlands in the background. Underneath the footbridge, a babbling stream runs idly by meandering through the rock-covered forest floor. Above it, cool breezes and leaves rustling in the trees entice the imagination.

Overall, the business premises keep firmly to the owner’s initial resolve to leave every tree and the nearby brook where they have always been, giving rise to house-among-trees ideas. For a good reason, they are built small and disposed around the periphery of the project site. The building shell is topped with a simple gable roof made of natural materials that are friendly to the environment.

To live and let live, a native tree stands where it’s always been. Cutting it down is not a choice.

Nature lovers should find the small café in the woods a paradise, thanks to rocks being used to create a set of steps leading to the glass-glazed façade, a clever hack to create visual continuity between indoors and outdoors.

Surrounded by lush lawns and shade trees, a set of rock steps adds beauty and functionality to the building’s glass-glazed façade.

Thanks to thoughtful design, the trio of small buildings in earthy browns lies beautifully ensconced among the trees and wooded hills in the background. Day in, day out, the smell of coffee ground and roasted fresh on site induces a sense of warmth and comfort among people who feel a yearning for the mountains.

It comes as no surprise that they name it “Mitbury”, a Thai term literally translated as a place for friendly people, and in this particular case, a café built into nature that celebrates the easy, laidback lifestyles that have made Chiang Mai famous. Swing by next time you’re in town!

Architect: WOS Architects (

Interior Design: Estudio (

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Tanatap Wall Garden: A Restaurant-cum-Café and Bar among Lush Trees and Immaculate White Walls

Tanatap Wall Garden: A Restaurant-cum-Café and Bar among Lush Trees and Immaculate White Walls

/ Central Java, Indonesia /

/ Story: Kangsadan K. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Mario Wibowo /

Central Java, Indonesia – Neat and clean walls rise above a reflecting pool and lush lawns brightened up by shimmering lights. They are made attractive by warm-toned whites and smooth curved lines twirling lightly around like poetry in motion. Shaped into alternate ridges and grooves, the concrete surfaces in zingy warm hues slant up to the skyline reminiscent of a graceful dance. It’s an amazing innovation thoughtfully devised to sync with rhythms in the urban landscape that gives it aesthetic appeal.

A welcoming reception area lies adjacent to the reflecting pool designed to blend with the rounded contour at the very top of a white wall separating the restaurant’s interior from the exterior.

The clean, well-lighted trio of restaurant, café and bar is located in Central Java, an Indonesian province that’s home to the famous Borobudur Temple, one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. Named “Tanatap Wall Garden”, it’s a delightful business space in a class of itself, one that advocates for form and function being joined in a way that requires less energy to operate.

The restaurant-cum-café and bar, together with its land that forms a verdant oasis, affords 2,500 square meters of commercial space nestled among beautiful cityscapes. It’s an all-encompassing design that combines commercial real estate with elements of nature in close physical association to the advantage of both.

A charcoal sketch shows the positioning of functional spaces in relation to existing big trees, a relationship to the advantage of both. / Courtesy of RAD+ar
A side elevation view in perspective illustrates the positioning of restaurant, café and bar spaces under lush tree cover. / Courtesy of RAD+ar

The concept delineated above is the brainchild of a high performing team at RAD+ar, an architectural practice based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The team of architects was tasked with transforming what used to be a parking garage into a calm, secluded garden in which to wine and dine; meanwhile preserving the existing natural environment and the property’s significance as part of a central business district.

The result is a piece of architecture showcasing perfectly clean, white walls rising among very big lush trees, a beautiful sight unlike anything out there. Viewed from above, the floor plan consists of three straight lines on the ground moving centrifugally from the center. Along these lines, concrete walls rise to different heights forming gently curved lines at the very top as they traverse among stands of homogeneous trees.

Viewed from above, the restaurant-cum-café and bar merges into beautiful and cool landscapes so that they become an indivisible whole.

Apart from bringing shade and regulating temperatures, the trees growing wild in every direction give the business premises charm, good looks that please the senses and the mind.

It’s design that comes from understanding the warm, humid climate prevailing in Central Java, and the company’s principles advocating for simple and sustainable lifestyles. Together they are the key attributes that make Tanatap Wall Garden one of the most agreeable places to be.

For a good first impression, the welcoming entryway is adorned with green spaces that create positive moments in people’s lives. It’s connected to a pathway system leading to cool and restful places amid the beautiful backyard landscape.

Old trees and new walls become inextricable parts of the design advocating for sustainability.

On the way, an 800-square-meter reflecting pool provides a focal point in the scenery, bringing joy, pleasure and contentment in nature’s peaceful embrace. Interestingly enough, tiers of seats similar to a sports arena are added to the mix in a way that’s proper in the circumstances.

A reflecting pool under tree cover provides a focal point in the landscape. It works in tandem with other passive design strategies creating thermal comfort for both indoors and outdoors.
A lounge area offers wide seating space and flexibility seamlessly integrated into the building’s architectural styles.

In addition to being a rendezvous for good food and drinks, Tanatap Wall Garden offers an enormous richness of nature-inspired outdoor rooms for those who love spending time indulging in music and live stage performances.

Keeping to its original concept, an amphitheater is put in for customers who appreciate dramatic works as a genre of literature and expression of ideas encouraging participation in the discourses of society. All of these features are neatly integrated in one cohesive design aesthetic.

Tiers of seats similar to a sports area lie under a pedestrian bridge connecting different parts of the building. By design, it’s a work of art that keeps creative energy flowing.

In short, it’s a metamorphosis of purpose that results in neat and clean white walls transforming into a stunning commercial space, in this particular case, a trio of restaurant, café and bar set amidst a verdant oasis.

From inside looking out, a part of the white wall with ridges and grooves in it is visible through the doorway at the furthest end.
The restaurant has a lovely garden under tree cover for those who prefer to wine and dine alfresco.

Drop by Tanatap Wall Garden for a drink or two next time you sojourn in Central Java. It’s an opportunity to experience the beauty of architecture and nature coming together in one indivisible design.

Architect: RAD+ar

Principal Architect: Antonius Richard

Sculpture Artist: Wisnu Ajitama

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CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee: A Coffee Shop in Earth-Toned Green Where the Classic Meets the Modern

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee: A Coffee Shop in Earth-Toned Green Where the Classic Meets the Modern

/ Ninh Thuan, Vietnam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Nguyen Duy Hoach /

Fresh brewed coffee smells like heaven, or so they say. And if you have a chance to swing by the beautiful central coast of Vietnam, get yourself a good strong cuppa at CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee located at Phan Rang-Thap Cham in Ninh Thuan Province. Find pleasure in the timeless atmosphere where the classic meets the modern. Here, lush green color paired with earth-toned brown turns a cute coffeehouse into a Shangri-La making every day a perfect day.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
Seen from across the street, the coffeehouse façade features a beautiful mix of classic and modern architectural styles.

From architectural perspectives, it’s about creating a design that embraces the beauty of works of art that have become classics and, at the same time, make use of modern materials that are right for prevailing weather conditions on the ocean front.

The front façade is built of glass bricks, a classic material designed to admit light, turning the coffeehouse into a well-lighted place.

The Tropics is warm all year as we know it, and the city of Phan Rang-Thap Cham is no stranger to intense sunlight and strong winds. For this reason, the storefront has to be made impervious to storm water.

Plus, it must be capable of keeping the heat out and, at the same time, letting natural light in. Rising to the challenge, the architects at PT Arch Studio chose glass bricks for the façade, and it works perfectly.

Aa axonometric projection shows interior space arrangements with a rooftop layout in relation to two glass dome skylights over the stairwell and seating areas. / Courtesy of PT Arch Studio



Downstairs floor plan with the terrace storefront. / Courtesy of PT Arch Studio
Upstairs floor plan. / Courtesy of PT Arch Studio


In cross section, a diagrammatic representation shows the side elevation and space arrangements in relation to the glass dome skylight at the midpoint. / Courtesy of PT Arch Studio

The coffeehouse features large lounges typical of classic restaurant interior design. To make customers feel comfortable, the seating areas and coffee nooks are arranged in neat, attractive order.

Both downstairs and upstairs rooms are well-lit and well-ventilated, thanks to a stack ventilation system that uses temperature differences to move air. The rooftop has two glass dome skylights that allow natural light streaming inside and double as engine driving cross ventilation forcing warm and stale air to exit through the rooftop.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
A set of stairs enclosed by glass brick walls gives access to the second floor. Along the outer circumference, round benches with coffee trays come in handy when the house is full and no seats available. Good thinking!
CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
Lit up by a rooftop skylight, the spiral stairs enclosed by glass brick walls provide access to seating areas on the second floor.

As is the case with business buildings across Vietnam, CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee is situated on an elongated rectangle with a narrow frontage abutting on the street. Originally, it was a design lacking fresh air and ventilation, an unpleasant situation that had to be dealt with from the start.

The team of architects at PT Arch Studio solved the problem by integrating natural elements into the plan as much as possible. And glass bricks came in handy to avoid the interior becoming a stuffy, overcrowded space. Overhead, a pair of rooftop skylights let natural light shine into both downstairs and upstairs.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
An open concept floor plan makes the interior space feel spacious, airy and comfortable.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee

A tree thrives under the glass dome skylight illuminating the interior in muted green hues and earth-toned brown.

Precisely, it’s a layout that effectively harnesses the feel-good benefits of nature to make the business space feel comfortable, warm and welcoming. Where necessary, glass mirrors are added to give the impression of ample space in the interior.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee

A glass dome skylight illuminates the stairwell connecting the first and second floors.

In terms of building performance, walk in the door and you find a beautiful, large coffee bar illuminated by natural light streaming in from above. At the midpoint, a spiral staircase enclosed by glass brick walls provides access to seating areas on the second floor.

Small bench seats with coffee trays along the outside of the circular wall add visual interest to interior design. They serve a useful purpose as extra seating when the house is full and no seats available. Every step of the way, signature interior furnishings in cool-toned earthy green and brown promote positive thinking and peace of mind.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
A glass brick enclosure holds the spiral staircase illuminated by a rooftop skylight. Nearby, a large mirror on the wall creates a sense of space.
CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
Upstairs seating arrangements showcase the signature cool green hues mixed with earth-toned brown.

Two glass dome skylights illuminate the stairwell and seating areas in cool green and earth-toned brown.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee

Taken as a whole, the interior is spacious and neatly arranged. The stuffiness of the unusually long and narrow space is nicely compensated for by well-thought-out design, building strategies and creative use of modern materials.

And the result of all this? CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee capable of fulfilling a role for which it is intended – a place that’s convenient, neat and clean plus coffee smells like fresh brewed heaven. And, the price is right, too. Looking for a good strong cuppa? Well, you get the idea.

Architect: PT Arch Studio (

Lead Architects: Nguyen Van, Phuoc Thinh

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The Thingamajiggy Coffee Roaster: Rice Granary Adapted for a New Use as Café amid the Rice Fields

The Thingamajiggy Coffee Roaster: Rice Granary Adapted for a New Use as Café amid the Rice Fields

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand/

/ Story: Ektida N. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Rungkit Charoenwat /

Here is a café and roastery with an ear-grabbing name. The Thingamajiggy Coffee Roaster stands in the middle of the rice fields of Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim District. A metamorphosis of purpose, it’s performing a new function as café with panoramic views of the stunning mountain landscape. The brand may be hard to say, but it certainly holds the attention of listeners while its rustic appearance merges into the farmhouse vernacular symbolic of the Northern Region.

Chiang Mai Cafe Rice Fields Thingamajiggy Coffee Roaster

The room of this Chiang Mai café in itself has only 21 square meters of space. At the outset, that was a difficult situation that tested the ability of the design team at Yangnar Studio, a homegrown atelier based in Chiang Mai. But they stepped up to the challenge by creating a functional business space, in which everything on the premises was fused into a single entity.

And the result of all this? A piece of vernacular architecture worth remembering. It’s a wholesome destination for coffee lovers that fits right into its surrounding farmlands and the reality of simple life in the countryside.

Chiang Mai Cafe Rice Fields Thingamajiggy Coffee Roaster
Built by locals using local building materials, the small coffee shop merges beautifully into farmland vernacular.

To begin with, the project owner wanted an oasis of calm where customers could sit back and relax as they enjoyed a good cup of coffee with nothing to obscure the view of the landscape. The design team responded with a three-part plan, including a small coffee shop at the front, followed by a cozy sitting area under a bamboo pavilion, and a restroom building at the farthest end.

Here, a 360-degree-view that changes from season to season can be seen all year round. Like a wallpaper from nature, it’s a design that seeks to connect more closely with the natural world for lighting and ventilation. Hence, there’s no need for air conditioning, which translates into huge savings and contributing in its small way to a sustainable future.

Chiang Mai Cafe Rice Fields Thingamajiggy Coffee Roaster
Going in the reverse direction, slat wood wall paneling is installed on the inside while supporting vertical beams or columns are on the outside.

In terms of design, the coffee shop gets its inspiration from old rice granaries commonplace in this part of the country. The interior holds a coffee bar service/ordering area complete with an assortment of bakery goods. Nearby, a west-facing bakery room provides insulation against hot afternoon sun, thereby keeping the bar and customer seating area cool and comfortable.

Plus, double height ceilings add a light and airy atmosphere to the room. From the outside, what looks like a two-story building is in fact a cross ventilation system which relies on wind to blow cool outside air into the room through one side, while warm inside air is forced out through rooftop vents and outlets on the opposite side.

Chiang Mai Cafe Rice Fields Thingamajiggy Coffee Roaster
Extended eaves overhanging the exterior walls offer protection against too much sun and rain.
The building’s external envelope crafted of bamboo splits creates a more open and airy atmosphere in the room, plus it protects against humidity damage.

The little café amid the rice fields is built by artisans skilled in traditional carpentry using timber and other natural ingredients readily available in Chiang Mai, except for the load-bearing foundations that are made of poured cement or concrete to protect against soil moisture damage. As is the case with rice granary construction, slat wood wall paneling is installed on the inside while supporting vertical beams or columns are on the outside.

Apart from retaining much of its architectural heritage, the reverse exterior walls add visual interest that merges with a massive gable roof designed for sun and rain protection. In the fewest possible words, it’s a picture of modern countryside ideas blending together beautifully into one cohesive whole.

Chiang Mai Cafe Rice Fields Thingamajiggy Coffee Roaster

To make customers feel comfortable, this Chiang Mai café amid the rice fields has patio and outdoor furniture that can be set up anywhere under the bamboo pavilion canopy. It’s a relaxation room that conveys a great deal about the humble origins of mankind and their responsibility towards nature.

To reduce the chance of exposure to harmful substances, the bamboo shades and blinds are not chemically treated to extend their longevity of life cycle. It’s a design based on the belief that everything changes and everything will be replaced when the time comes.

A drawing of the floor plan shows functional spaces in relation to the trees and shrubbery thriving on the property.

The same applies to the method of construction that’s simple and straightforward. Take for example the bamboo pole footings that are wrapped in plastic bags for protection against humidity damage. Or the overhead black mesh rolls that create diffuse light and protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays. They, too, get changed from time to time to ensure customer comfort and satisfaction.

Chiang Mai Cafe Rice Fields Thingamajiggy Coffee Roaster
For a full view of the landscape, the three buildings are set in a direction parallel with the elongated plot of land.

Architect: Yangnar Studio (

Lead Architects: Dechophon Rattanasatchatham, Apiwat Chainarin

Construction Supervisors: Rungroj Tansukanun, Metee Moonmuang

Builder Team: Yangnar studio builder team, Yaiwood

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Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop: A Design Experiment on the Interaction between Commercial Space and Nature

Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop: A Design Experiment on the Interaction between Commercial Space and Nature

/ Jakarta, Indonesia /

/ Story: Baralee / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: KIE, Mario Wibowo /

Introducing a prototype of the small café well thought out as place for a rendezvous. Aptly named Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop, it’s a work of outstanding artistry integrating restaurant space planning with nature to form a cohesive oasis of calm. The key elements of design include a sloping garden beautifully ensconced in a stadium-like enclosure. There’s a circular path at the top of the stairs for a leisurely stroll. At intervals, the paved path is marked with outdoor tarp canopies for protection from the sun. It sends out one important message — time well spent is time spent in the great outdoors.

Tanatap Ring Garden

The theme of an enchanted garden cafe is derived from a simple question. “What is it like if a piece of architecture behaves like it’s non-existent?” In this particular case, the centerpiece of the project is a lush tropical garden enclosed by a circular glass-block building envelope.

It’s home to a café space that lies hidden in plain sight, concealed by a grassy knoll that blends perfectly into the surrounding landscape. It’s a meeting place where people mix socially and interact with one another bringing youthful exuberance to this part of the city of Jakarta.

Tanatap Ring Garden

With respect to construction, Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop is the result of three design strategies combined.

First of all, it’s well planned to blend with the healthy foliage of a tropical forest setting. This is evident in the preservation of all the existing trees on the property.

Secondly, the circular building envelope is designed to encompass all positive aspects of ornamental grounds where plants grow luxuriantly. Located at the center of the floor plan, the café covered by a grassy knoll affords a large room where people meet plus plenty of ample spaces for relaxation. A few steps away, remarkable garden design offers sensory pleasure and the opportunity of reconnecting with nature.

Lastly, it’s about enhancing customer experience by merging indoor and outdoor spaces bringing them together into a cohesive whole.

Tanatap Ring Garden

Tanatap Ring Garden

The overall effect is impressive. It’s a layout that strikes the right balance between the relative size of the project, the building materials used, and the impact of color, texture and natural light in the design process.

To reduce the harshness of the built environment, the building envelope is made of glass blocks that allow maximum daylight between spaces. They add aesthetic appeal to the place and blend well with the existing trees.

Tanatap Ring Garden

Tanatap Ring Garden

As regards functional design, walk into the café and you come to a counter bar occupying a central position. Carefully thought out design promotes ease of movement in every part allowing people to traverse through and around unhindered.

The circular glass-block wall that separates the interior from the garden is decorated with lush leafy plants. It’s marked at intervals with plain-looking sets of tables and chairs for customers. Nearby, a corridor creates smooth transition between spaces giving access to the yard on the outside.

Tanatap Ring Garden

The nature-loving café project is built amphitheater style. Like so, the commercial space is positioned at the center of landscape design. It’s a beautiful greenery-covered building adorned with tiers of outdoor seating set at intervals.

Meanwhile, the boundary along the outer circumference is filled with café seating situated directly below the concrete rooftop corridor made for a leisurely stroll. From here, a vista of high-rise buildings in Jakarta’s CBD can be seen in full view from afar. All things considered, it’s a piece of architecture devised from experience in tropical garden landscaping.

Tanatap Ring Garden

Tanatap Ring Garden

Tanatap Ring Garden

By design, Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop is an experimental project involving new and innovative ideas for commercial space planning. In this particular case, it provides the opportunity of observing how users react to a less familiar environment. It’s implemented with a view to identify the furniture choice, seating arrangement and features in hardscape architecture that are right for business.

It’s a design that blurs the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces. The color green that fills the landscape has strong associations with nature, hence comfortable furniture and a conducive semi-outdoor environment make perfect sense.

Plus, it’s interesting to discover how well-planned open design can facilitate social interactions in everyday life.

Conceptual Diagram Courtesy of RAD+ar
Ground Floor Plan Courtesy of RAD+ar
Roof Floor Plan Courtesy of RAD+ar
Section Drawing Courtesy of RAD+ar


Tanatap Ring Garden

Tanatap Ring Garden

Aside from that, the recent outbreak of Covid-19 was also a factor that compelled the architect to undertake this experiment to determine how a commercial space with plenty of outdoor landscaping ideas performs in the ensuing days.

It’s exciting to see how new ideas in outdoor environment design play a role in enticing people to spend more time outdoors and live a lifestyle more closely connected with nature, one of many actions people can take to support sustainable living.

Architect: RAD+ar (

More about nature-inspired designs similar to the above-mentioned are waiting to be discovered. It’s a chance to meet up with Antonius Richard, architect and founder of the architectural practice RAD+ar of Indonesia during the upcoming conversation event titled, “URABN FUSION / RURAL FLOURISH: Interweaving Urban and Rural Designs”.

It’s a part of the annual “room Books X Living ASEAN Design Talk.” This year’s panel of experts is made up of four distinguished architects from three countries. The Design Talk is scheduled for Sunday August 6 at the room Showcase zone inside BaanLaeSuan Fair Midyear 2023, BITEC Bang Na, Bangkok. It’s an opportunity not to be missed. Mark your calendar!

For more details:

Register to attend at:

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Basic Space Coffee: Old Shop Renovated as a Home Style Café

Basic Space Coffee: Old Shop Renovated as a Home Style Café

AYUTTHAYA / An old grocery-cum-bistro in the historic city of Ayutthaya has been tastefully renovated as a home style café. Aptly named “Basic Space Coffee”, it’s located at the corner of Bang Ian and Liab Khlong Makham Riang roads. Intended to better meet customer needs, the makeover project was undertaken by BodinChapa Architects, who were responsible for both design and construction supervision.


The design team has kept firmly to its original concept. Since the business owner works here all day, it makes perfect sense for the café to feel like a home. To ensure customers feel comfortable and at ease, the designers think it wise to turn back to basics.

Parts of the 100 sq. m. building that are not impaired in any way are kept intact. They include the old corrugated roofing sheets and flooring materials with a simplicity and charm typical of the countryside.


Old ceiling panels are removed to make the interior spacious and well ventilated. The bar counter and custom cabinetry that form an integral part of the structure remain where they’ve always been since old times. Together, they prove a perfect complement to the building façade made of a hybrid of wood, brickwork, concrete.


Door casing, panels and the bar counter are made of solid wood, such as Makha (Afzelia xylocarpa) and Teng (Shorea obtuse). Where appropriate, plywood is used on parts of the interior walls, while furniture brings a degree of uniqueness to a peaceful country setting. This include tables with cabriole legs that have been adapted for use in a different purpose supporting the bar counter. Just like old times, rustic wooden tables with cabriole legs adorn semi-open spaces that remain at the ready for spontaneous meetings.

BASIC SPACE COFFEE BodinChapa Architects คาเฟ่อยุธยา
BodinChapa Architects / Phitchapa Lothong (Left) and Bodin Mueanglue
Basic Space Coffee Crew / From left: Supatip (Nim) Onbuakhao, co-founder of Basic Space Coffee, Putthipong Wanichsuwan the owner, and Man the barista.

Basic Space Coffee is open Tuesday through Sunday from 07.30 to 16.00. Tel: 09-1871-2028.

House Becomes Café

Basic Space Coffee is among 17 cafés being featured in “House Becomes Café”, a guide to home remodeling that’s part of the “room Books” series. It’s a nexus of ideas to transform single homes, townhouses, and row houses into business spaces giving a feeling of comfort, warmth and relaxation. It’s a rich source of strategies and techniques that can be done in real life, plus knowledge of safety inspections, café restaurant systems and procedures, and laws you need to know.

“House Becomes Café” is available in paperback, 4-color-process printing, dimensions 20 x 25 cm. Total 184 pages. Pre-order now until 31 May 2021 to receive a special introductory offer of 360 Baht (a 425 Baht value), plus 50 Baht shipping in Thailand for a total of 411 Baht. Place your order at: or Inbox Page:

Story: Nawapat Dusdul
Photographs: Nantiya B., Mhee Rattanachai

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham / Styling: Jeedwonder /

The renovation of this hundred-plus-year-old rowhouse in Charoen Krung Soi 44 is more than a home improvement: for Mou Lumwatananont, it’s a homecoming she’d never imagined.

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

“My mother was born here, but we moved out before I was two. After building it up from 2 storeys to 2½ storeys, my aunt continued to use it as an office,” the owner began to tell the house’s story.

“However, that business ended many years ago, and it has been only two years since we began making plans for renovation and conversion to fulfill our long-time dream of a guest house and a café.”

This area’s former prosperity is apparent in traces of European colonial-style architecture and bustling alleys that now welcome international tourists and backpackers to the charm of its storied history.

Mou and architect Pok (Wachirasak Maneewatanaperk) from sea.monkey.coconut share views on the value of preserving history through architecture.

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House


The architect explained, “Renovating this great old building, I didn’t want to change a lot. But I discovered it had already changed.”

“An upper floor had been added, and it had been expanded outback as far as it could go. The entire second-storey wooden floor had been covered with another material.”

In line with building preservation guidelines, the architect decided to make clear distinctions between old and new.

They kept intact the front wall and brick walls all around, chiseling off interior mortar to show weight-bearing structures, including wood wall beams fitted into brick arches, and keeping the charming mortared patterns of the original roof.


Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

The lower floor is chic travelers’ café, a wooden stairway stretching up to guest rooms above. Visitors might wonder about the functionality of the steel poles they see set at intervals throughout. It is the by-product of the makeover process, as the architect told:

“This area is a walled-in rectangle, and without changing outer walls and structure at all, we’ve created a new house within the frame of the old one, sinking micro pilings into the root foundation and installing all new support pillars.

“It was important to keep the new structure separate. Concrete flooring was poured on the ground level and separated by a foam at the joints where it meets the original walls.

“These “expansion joints” keep outer and inner structures from being attached, so if the floor subsides, it won’t pull a wall down with it. On the second level, we’d intended to keep the original wood flooring, but found irreparable termite damage, so we had to replace it.”

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Explaining the challenges of the construction process, the architect added, “At the back of the house, we changed to steel and drywall construction to install walls and latticework.

“Building here was difficult because of the limited space. Fronting on a narrow street made delivery difficult. There was nowhere to stack and store materials, so all work had to begin inside.

“When the inside was done, we brought in the materials stored outside and switched to working on the front. There was a lot of planning involved to make it possible for the craftsmen to be able to work at all.”

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Row houses lasting more than a hundred years naturally tell stories with marks from sun and wind, just as with marks left on our lives by travel.

Leaving to study and live in England for more than twenty years, Mou could never have expected the winds would slowly blow her back to her origins with a new feeling, one born of love and dreams.

The word “Chez” is French, meaning “at,” or “at the home of,” hence the name: Mou has opened her home to welcome friends at “Chez Mou,” where stories are told by marks on bricks and sweet smiles.

Here is a place full of feeling of release from travel, and full of a bittersweet, gentle fragrance.

Architect: Wachirasak Maneewatanaperk of sea.monkey.coconut (

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