The seaside venue known as Monsant Cafe is located in Aewol, an area bordering a nature reserve and home to a dinosaur theme park. The owner is rumoured to be South Korean rapper G-Dragon.
The 200-square-metre cafe follows a number of recent projects by well-known architects on Jeju, including a cluster of basalt artists' studios by Kengo Kuma, a sculptural residence by Moon Hoon and the Daun internet headquarters by Mass Studies.
The simple boxy building is constructed from a combination of local basalt stone, crushed concrete and reflective glass, which are intended to help reflect the site.
"Our goal was not to emphasise the architecture by landscape, but to highlight the landscape by architecture," said Platform_a, which chose to incorporate the island's traditional volcanic stone into the project.
"We hoped this building would be integrated to the surrounding landscape as a starting point of this project," added the team. "Here, architecture is no more or less than a medium to maintain and extend the existing context."
While the east and north facades of the cafe are windowless, the west and south are made almost entirely from glass. These wide windows are set in black stainless-steel frames and pivot onto a seaside dining terrace, where a short flight of steps leads directly down to the rocky shore.
When closed, the reflective glazing obscures views of the cafe's interior to create an intimate setting.
A hole cut through the polished concrete floor inside is intended to serve as a direct connection to the surroundings.
The interior is given a rustic appearance by distressed wooden furniture, chipped concrete and basalt surfaces.
"The refined volume is designed to embody a neutral piece of architecture through concrete and glass, thus offered as a device to absorb the characteristic of the existing site," said the architects.
"Such beautiful landscape elements reflecting the locality of Jeju as stone wall, volcanic sand, and basalt rock were reinterpreted into the motif of this project."
A staircase climbs up the side of a crumbling concrete wall at the back of the site to a rooftop observation deck.
Here, a translucent cube projects from the roof to allow natural light into the single-storey building. It also emanates artificial light from within to light the terrace at night.
"The wall escapes from the existing role of a boundary and now offers a new space where users can take a rest, while the vertical axis planned along the wall arouses the users' curiosity as well as making them look upward and their movement go toward a new space," said the architects.
Photography is by Yoon Joonhawn.
Architect in charge: Jincheol Han
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