Ippudo Vietnam – a social space between multi-layered screen of green and wooden chopsticks – Away from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City center, Ippudo Vietnam is located at District 7, which is 8km to the South. This is the first branch of a Japanese ramen restaurant, and it is sited in an emerging housing development. Adjacent to a pool that is public-accessible, this is a renovation project in which an existing 8m-high two-story steel structure building with an area of 540m2 to be converted to a restaurant with a semi-outdoor space. The site where a rapid and monotonous city development with its high-rise residential buildings resulted in a lack of consideration with its surroundings.
In Vietnamese old town, a strong sense of community are commonly found in alleys called “hem”. It has been the core of the formation of local community. Typically, buildings are designed to connect directly to the “hem”. It is often the social setting where activities and interaction take place. It is a tradition in Vietnam where families and local community have meals together. This is where a strong sense of community is formed. In order to prepare such dining space in a new city area in Vietnam, the appropriate strategy to support this tradition is the main theme to the design approach.
Overlaying landscapes, screens and activities – Since this restaurant is located in a tropical climate region, the focus is to utilize the power of plants. By using greenery, a multi-layered landscape is created by overlapping multiple green screens. The in-between space then becomes the dining space of semi-outdoor space. Green screen is considered an appropriate material as it features low heat radiation, as well as the aesthetics itself. The guests are greeted by the pool and undulating planters upon arrival. The planters are made of exposed recycled bricks.
The dining floor gradually descends towards the pool. This is to include the pool as part of the design consideration while being gently carved by the overlapping greenery. The arc-shaped counter facing the main kitchen extends outwards to form a higher platform level, which acts as the entrance to the second floor. The non-linear of the landscape further enhance the spatial depth of the dining area while providing privacy to the guests.
Local made wooden chopstick screen as signature of the space – Screens made by wooden chopsticks are designed to connect the local culture with the landscape screens. This locally-made natural material is aimed to express and embrace Vietnamese craftsmanship. During the night, the chopstick screens create a unique rhythmic façade appearance while complementing the greenery landscape during the daytime. The screen panels feature a curtain-like opening, in which they provide privacy when seated. The frames then gradually rotate at the human eye-level when standing to provide view-out to the guests. These multi-layered screens of green and wooden chopsticks celebrate human activity in between and create a landscape in day and night with a depth.
A place growing with the region – It is a place where activities and interaction occur between the multi-layered screens. The restaurant acts as a social hub within the area, where interaction and food is shared. The design approach of Ippudo Vietnam is a challenge to realize a social space that responds, changes and grows as it ages with its surroundings.