“ Japanesque ceilings revitalize an old townhouse ”
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Completion: August, 2022
The Rouge is a project to create an annex for a sushi restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. It comprises the renovation of an adjacent building, maximizing floor space and creating a number of private rooms as well as generous backrooms. The existing building is an old brick-masonry townhouse, and the original construction’s large open space framed by massive sidewalls are strikingly simple and powerful. Repeated renovations, however, subdivided the space, hiding its past characteristic elements. The project removed the various structures and finishes that had occupied the building revealing the original bare brick walls. These walls retained the traces of the changes the buildings had undergone during its many transformations. The project aimed at inheriting and enhancing the building’s history while allowing for the inevitable re-fragmentation required by the new program.
Two volumes are inserted into the building to accommodate the various functions. The volumes are arranged to keep the surface of the existing brick walls as untouched as possible, appearing to be independent of them but functioning as buttresses maintaining their integrity. The outer surfaces of the volumes are covered with old bricks similar to the existing ones, rendering subtle difference in texture between the old and new revealing the various histories of the structure—textures revealed by ‘excavation’ and created by the new construction. The interior of the volumes is finished with flat wood. The walls of the private rooms have openings that reveal the existing brick wall, offering a clear contrast of textures.
It is the unified tone of dark color that enhances the harmony between the old building and the new volumes. While the volumes enhance the relation to the existing through juxtaposition, the red ceiling is independent element distinct from the entire space. Its Japanesque color and forms associate the space with the sushi restaurant in addition to creating a variety of experiences within the diagrammatic space composition by the two volumes. By its irregular rhythm, the origami-shaped ceiling accentuates the linear sequence between the volumes, guiding people from the entrance to the innermost private room. In contrast, the coffered ceiling in the connective private rooms, integrating the rail system of movable partitions, creates a sense of tranquility.