Dezeen Magazine

Exterior photo of Nonspace

On Architects draws on irrigation channels for concrete South Korean cafe

Walls made of exposed concrete and rice straw define Nonspace, a cafe designed by Korean studio On Architects to reference historic rice paddies in Icheon, South Korea.

The cafe and community space by On Architects has a distinctive gridded ziggurat form, with roof terraces reminiscent of Ricardo Bofill's La Muralla Roja housing estate in Spain.

Exterior image of Nonspace
Nonspace was designed by On Architects

The riverside site is located in the district of Hobeop-myeon in Icheon, an area that is famous for rice and flower farming.

The studio designed the geometric Nonspace cafe to reflect the irrigation channels used in rice paddies, and to enable interactions between different cultures through the creation of "cross-spaces".

Aerial photo image of Nonspace
The building is a cafe and community centre

These "cross-spaces" are sited at the intersections created by the gridded geometry of the plan of the building.

"Each cross-space has the possibility of extensions for various programs," the studio told Dezeen. "It is not a universal physical space, but rather a differentiated experimental space."

Photo of Nonspace
The design has interior passages around courtyards

The building is arranged on a 3.2-metre grid, with a series of interwoven interior passages positioned around external courtyards.

On entering the building, a double-height void open to the elements leads to the internal cross-cultural space and cafe.

Internally, ceilings were constructed using an experimental mix of exposed concrete mixed with rice straw.

During the construction, soaked sheaves of rice straw were laid on the slab form, resulting in a textural surface finish that looks straw-woven.

"Over time, the atmosphere of the space will keep varying as the straw undergoes changes," the studio explained.

Interior photo of the cafe and community centre
The studio used exposed concrete throughout

Sliding doors open up the interior spaces to the external courtyards, while full-height picture windows at the ends of the linear spaces frame views across the rice paddies and a river.

On the roof, visitors can walk across a landscape of stepped terraces and pebbles defined by concrete walls of different heights and openings.

Photo of an outdoor space at the cafe and community centre
Planted courtyards decorate the space

Other eateries in South Korea featured on Dezeen include a cafe with a playful roof terrace with curved brick openings by Seoul studio Sukchulmok, and a cafe with ramped walls that flow into a central courtyard by Nameless Architecture.

The photography is by Joonhwan Yoon.

More images

Photo of Nonspace
Photo of Nonspace
Photo of Nonspace
Photo of Nonspace
Photo of Nonspace
Photo of Nonspace