- Architects: LABOTORY
- Location: 24 Donhwamun-ro 11da-gil, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Lead Architects: Park Kee Min, Jung Jin Ho
- Other Participants: Kang Jiyeon, Yang Jinju, Kim Yeonju
- Area: 93.0 m2
- Project Year: 2018
- Photographs: Choi Yong Joon
Caligari Brewing is a handmade beer brand which has a large draft beer brewery in Songdo, Incheon.
We can already see Caligari Brewing on trendy alleys and streets such as in Seongsu-dong and Itaewon-dong .
Advancing into Ikseon-dong was great challenge and adventure for Caligari Brewing. This is because Caligari Brewing’s existing brand image and direction is a little different from the mood of Ikseon-dong, which is a traditional Korean style street. As the name implies, Caligari Brewing is a brand that was created in homage of the movie “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,“ so the space of the existing stores looks dark and masculine and provides a closed feeling, like in the movie.
With such a background, it was important to design a space that reflects the brand identity of Caligari Brewing and the sensibility and features of the Ikseon-dong alley. Through collaboration with the star chef Michael, we could incorporate a good plan to serve appetizers suitable for handmade beer into the space. To do that, LABOTORY had to work on Caligari Brewing’s new brand identity and space identity at the same time and incorporate elements that will grab the attention of Ikseon-dong’s visitors.
The hanok street of Ikseon-dong in Jongno-gu has been changing into a trendy alley since 2 years ago, and now it can be seen as the hottest alley, one of Seoul’s tourist sites. As a result, the alley is crowded with people during the weekend as well as during weekdays and it has formed a nice commercial area that is equipped with cafes, restaurants, pubs and recreation. Ikseon-dong is offering many things to see and eat, as a tourist alley should. However, there is a big gap between well-running stores and poor-running stores. A big reason is because most customers are females in their early- or mid-20s. We needed to check important aspects—whether the store had cute, trendy elements that will appeal to these females, or elements that will satisfy SNS targets who like uploading their photos on SNS, or whether there was any merit that will provide a high satisfaction for the relatively high prices compared to other places. We began our design after analyzing Caligari Brewing’s unique color, the trends of such alleys and target customers.
“Two faces of space in daytime and nighttime”
Ikseon-dong street looks totally different in the day and night. To put it more accurately, rather than saying the character is different between day and night, cafes and stores which sell food open during daytime, from morning to the early evening, while businesses which well alcohol usually open in the late afternoon and operate until midnight. Caligari Brewing is an alcohol business, so like other stores, it opens in the late afternoon on weekdays. However, due to the characteristics of Ikseon-dong, to satisfy the many weekend customers, when the transient population is the highest, it offers food and beer from lunchtime. For that reason, we designed it to be a serene space within a Korean traditional building to create a suitable mood for lunch and dining during the daytime while creating a “sensuous” space for nighttime as if being in a club. Under this concept, we produced an overall mood of space and forms and it became a clue helping us find elements that will present Ikseon-dong’s face during daytime and Caligari Brewing’s face during nighttime.
“Both Oriental and contemporary”
We thought that if we remove the Asian features of the Korean traditional building to show the characteristics of Caligari Brewing, we cannot satisfy customers who come to Ikseon-dong street with different expectations. Accordingly, we decided to use finishing materials that contrast with the existing ones while following oriental style in terms of formation.
For example, the shape of lanterns becomes a contemporary object and is used as a lighting furnishing for a folding screen, and metal fabric was used for sun shades to be suitable for the mood of a Korean traditional building. In addition, for gate handles, we used a material that would give an impression of metal while using a method of changing the material while maintaining the shape and changing the function when maintaining the material in order to display two types of fun contrast.
“High and low height”
While walking along the alley, when passing in front of the store, customers will naturally flow in the space following the big metal wall and walk into the inside of the building and they will advance into the space with the highest ceiling while enjoying the rafter and roof tiles of the lowest ceiling. After advancing into the inside of the building, customers will find different rooms depending on their preference, and we wanted to offer interesting experiences in this process for them as well. Thus, we used different floor levels and moods for each room. This is also a clue showing the identity of the brand—“Secret Room” (Cabinet) as depicted in the movie “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari“.
The Secret Room’ implies that each room has a different character.
The entrance is placed a little more inside compared to the boundary of the existing building, and by erecting a metal wall that will lead the traffic of customers, we emphasized the entering feature of the entrance. We intentionally designed the flow so that customers enter the inside of the building naturally while walking along the alley, and by placing the menu right in front of the entrance, it will be less likely customers who entered to look at the menu to leave the building as they are already inside the space.
The rooms have a space decorated in the scene of a lyrical barley field that provides a warm mood created with natural sunlight through the open space of the outside and inside of the building. They intend to show warmth unique to Ikseon-dong street while giving an impression of a beer-specialty store by using the barley styling which indirectly express the space of a bar/booth bench table. As this space is located near the entrance, tables are places in this space for customers who want to drink beer for a short time rather than for customers who want to linger for a long time. In addition, we collected newspapers printed in the 1900s which were discovered while demolishing the building and made them into picture frames and exhibited the frames in the space.
Room 3 is a red color secret room where customers can advance into the space while hearing the interesting sound of metallic fabric. The reason that we place a red secret space in this room is that we wanted to present a contrasting space by giving a strong impression of a secret room on one side of the façade if there is a lyrical barley space on the left. Even though red lighting and illumination is used to the room, we designed the walls by using Korean traditional mulberry paper and wood molding to give a lyrical feeling during daytime.
This main hall has a mixture of Caligari Brewing’s characteristics and oriental characteristics. We used the layout of a bunker style in order to provide a feeling of being embraced by lowering the floor by about two layers compared to the existing floor and we placed a lighting in the shape of a folding screen on the ceiling that is higher than the roof in order to achieve the effect of expanding space. No partitions are used in this space, but only different levels of the floor are used, when customers sit in this space, they can see the kitchen area where cooks are busy preparing food. Unlike other secret rooms, this space is open so it provides a revitalizing feeling.
This room is the innermost room of the building and with it we worked to retain the original structure of the building. We thought that wallpaper and the ceiling beams in fun shapes were important design items, so we kept them in the original form, instead of demolishing them, in order to provide incidental interior effects. However, there was no area that gets sunlight, so we demolished the side wall and installed glass window to express a warm space with sunlight.