at the very end of an alley in hannam-dong, seoul, the architects from LABOTORY have transformed a former electronics store into an cafe oriente, an artisanal coffee shop that combines contemporary minimalism with traditional korean aesthetics. for previous coverage on another LABOTORY coffee shop, read here.

labotory coffee seoul
customers descend into the semi underground coffee shop
all images credited to yongjun choi



in order to accomplish this design, LABOTORY introduced a unique ‘ㄷ’ shaped layout to the building with a central court, a theme from the traditional hanok (korean home) structure. additionally, the ‘ㄷ’ structure allows customers to flow through the space from the area of the baristas to the seat sections, supplying stability and space distinguishability. labotory coffee seoul
the coffee shop interior is visible on the way to the entrance



the awning towards the entrance of the shop, acts as a bridge between the exterior and interior sections of the shop. the curves of the awning are met with the ceiling of the coffee shop which leads to the heart of the shop, where the barista works. labotory coffee seoul
doorway bridges the granite color with the interior of the coffee shop



the architects intended to utilize the semi-underground space by introducing curves to the corner of the ceilings to shift direction toward that focal point of the store. the lighting of the shop has also been designed to create a sense of floatation for the ceiling where furniture compliments, developing this overall atmosphere. labotory coffee seoul
inside, the barista bar is at the heart of the coffee shop



continuing with the hanok elements, the first floor which is called ‘twet maru’ in korean, acts as an expanded link between the exterior and the interiors in traditional homes. this section for this coffee shop is the semi-underground seating area for customers with a small garden under the seats to provide customers who are facing each other with a lighter feel. labotory coffee seoul
seating area takes after the ‘twet maru’labotory coffee seoulhere the mix of the granite and the wood provide a unique traditional feellabotory coffee seoul
miniature gardens underneath the seats provide a connection to the earthlabotory coffee seoul
the greenery provides a different element to the semi-underground coffee shopunderground coffee shop fuses contemporary minimalism with traditional korean aesthetics
the wood represents an element from the traditional hanok homeslabotory coffee seoul
the curved ceilings allow the focal point to be direct toward the baristalabotory coffee seoul
the curves also allow the light to create a sense of floatation





project info:


project name: cafe oriente
direction and general oversight: LABOTORY / kimin park, jinho jung /
design and audit: LABOTORY / jiyeon kang
display: LABOTORY / jiyeon kang
b.i: zerometre
photography: yongjun choi / 010-9326-2107
location: b1, 682-16, hannam-dong, yongsan-gu, seoul
area: 58m2
exterior: concrete grind
floor: terrazzo
walls: concrete grind, nano coated
ceiling: paint
date of completion: 9th of march, 2018.