T3 Architects undertook the restoration of a 1950s modernist villa in Saigon to reconnect people with Vietnamese heritage and create a welcoming and fresh place dedicated to cocoa and pastry.
The design seeks to revive the existing structure by integrating sustainable architecture and sustainably sourced cacao chocolate trace.
Natural light was brought into the structure by breaking a few concrete slabs and creating a tropical garden. The structural details like the terrazzo staircase, cornices, old handrails, vertical concrete louvres and coat of lime paint were restored in their raw state, slowly unveiled layer by layer, reflecting the history and past of Saigon.
The architects chose to preserve the bare street façade after removing all the finishing. The wall provides a buffer and prevents noise from the adjoining street, offering a quaint garden for the café. Inspired by the farmer plantations of the Mekong Delta, the tropical garden incorporates palm trees and a productive cocoa tree as an emblem.
The design prioritized sustainability and preservation by minimising the use of new materials and sourcing and producing them locally. By using natural or low-carbon materials like uncooked local cement tiles, solid wood furniture, lime painting and so on, the structure ensures good indoor air quality.
Rediscovering the raw aesthetic of the existing and establishing a bright and warm place, the project is an exemplary manifestation of Vietnamese heritage rejuvenation through an innovative frugal approach.