Since the first Choui Fong Tea Cafe began operation in 2015, Choui Fong plantation has gained plenty of tourists’ attention and became one of the most famous tourist attractions in Chiang Rai. By avoiding the overcrowded space, Choui Fong Tea Cafe 2 was born to serve the overflow of visitors at the first Choui Fong Tea Cafe.
The second phase is located on the plantation hill, not far from the first cafe. The project consists of a dining area with 250 seats, a large souvenir shop, and the exhibition area where staffs demonstrate tea making and the histories are displayed. The significant concern in this project is ‘universal design.’ After the first cafe has been operated for years, the owner realized that family groups with elders are the group of clients that should be concerned.
The designers proposed that the building floor be rectangular so that most of the seats in the areas can fully view the surrounding landscape. Unlike the first cafe that the building hides in the slope, the Choui Fong Tea Cafe 2 stands on the hill because of its massive usable area and to be aside from the existing factory.
The design concept provides visitors with a panoramic plantation view and also lets all of them stay close to the natural surroundings without inconveniences for elders and disabled people. Thus, the design should support these conditions simultaneously efficiently. The dining area is split into several steps following the land contour to widen the scenery in the slope area. Doing so allows all customers from every platform to have a view at a different eye level. The ramp is provided surrounding the dining area, and this allows the wheelchair to access all platforms. Above the ramp, the extended eaves to cover the dining area are added to protect the dining area from heavy rain in the rainy season.
The ground floor plan’s dimension is enormous due to the owner’s requirements to have a large usable area in a one-story building. Usually, it comes with some disadvantages, such as a lack of natural light inside the building space. The small skylights are distributed irregularly in various positions of the plan to solve the problem about a lack of daylight, instead of making the skylight as big as the structural grid allows to do so. The latter solution usually brings about a disadvantage as using a considerable size of glass plane will inevitably come together with exposed joint and structure of unpleasant dimension. The skylights were designed in an extruded cone shape, which generates diffusing light sufficiently for the entire dining area as well as provides volume for the tree in the courtyard underneath. Externally, the skylight forms are covered with stone and arranged in harmony with the surrounding mountains.
The entrance hallway acts like the wind tunnel that the visitors may feel the wind blows on their face as a welcome greeting. While passing this tunnel, the visitors will experience that the dim space gradually brightens up along the way to the dining area. This recent project’s selected materials are in tune with the first phase, such as pinewood, steel, glass, and, additionally, mountain stone. These materials represent Choui Fong’s philosophy of organic plantation.
Choui Fong Tea Cafe is one of the role model architecture that impulses the local economy and community, supporting the Choui Fong Tea plantation to become one of the top destinations in Chiang Rai province. The design is derived from the analysis of the real user behavior patterns in the first phase café. All functions were interpreted into the program and finally transformed into an architecture successfully. By this process, the project appears to have its unique character, which definitely explains the designer’s belief that architecture is a problem-solving solution where the result should be unique, aesthetic, and beneficial to people in better living.
CHIANG RAI, THAILAND
DESIGN : 2016 / COMPLETION : 2019
ARCHITECT : IDIN ARCHITECTS
INTERIOR DESIGNER : IDIN ARCHITECTS
PHOTOGRAPHER : DOF SKY|GROUND
AREA : 1,330 SQ.M.