Location: Buon Me Thuot, DakLak Province, Vietnam.

Architect: am.at:design.

The SOUL project was commissioned by The Soul Roastery BMT, a boutique café in Vietnam catering to a young mobile clientele. The brief called for a space that was humble, inexpensive to build, and deliverable within three months. The lead architect, am.at:design, used local suppliers and vernacular construction techniques to meet the client’s requirements. The finished space has an industrial aesthetic with exposed structure and industrial fixtures, which reflects the transparency and quality of the core coffee product. The design is a response to three key site moves – an open plan, a generous forecourt, and generous ceiling height. The plan weaves a field of differently sized spaces around a main serving space, coffee roasters, and function room, flowing from one into another. The articulation of these columns and interior elements utilizes a consistent three-dimensional language of planes and folds. The built result has expressed contrasting elements rather than the palimpsest of the initial concept, but it is an aesthetic that absorbs the realities of construction, highlighting an otherwise conventionally resolved structure as a selectively hidden, infrastructural datum for the sculptural elements. The combination of exposed structure, open social space, and choice of highlighted elements rediscovers the clients’ desire for a building that expresses their vision of coffee – that of authenticity attained through a certain rawness of treatment and transparency.

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