South Korea’s second most populated city (after its capital, Seoul) is no stranger to modern architecture. The likes of Coop
Himmelb(l)au’s 4000-seat cinema (2012) is already proudly prominent along the coastline of the country’s largest port city, with Snøhetta’s impressive waterside opera house expected in 2020. At the end of 2016, Heesoo Kwak and IDMM Architects joined the concrete crusade with a beach cafe on a hill that overlooks the glittering shore.

Making good use of the site’s natural typography, Waveon cafe resembles two abnormally angular boxes stacked on top of one another, with a curious upper form rising towards the water with a superiority over the lower volume. Kwak confirms the reasoning behind the structural language. ‘The project satisfies two objectives: the conditions of the site and the view to the sea,’ he says. ‘Naturally, the design of the lower part of the building is an interpretation of the shape of the site. The upper level considers how we can look out over the water.’

Formwork was used to cast the two concrete volumes on-site and, although the use of the raw material is considerable, the interior atmosphere is surprisingly light and airy. In fact, the extensive use of glazed openings creates a feeling of being exposed to nature – as if a coastal breeze could pass through the building at any moment. The project’s interior is based around the idea of sitting. Some of the stairs aren’t actually stairs; they’re benches that continue inside, outside and around the patio.

The roof terrace provides a 360-degree view of the waves lapping against the rocky beach at high-tide and this is exactly what the architect hoped for. ‘Waveon cafe is for those who want to enjoy the seashore with a sip of coffee. Although you cannot see the wind on the beach via photos, you can imagine the freshness of the breeze and the light, airy mood of the interior.’

Kwak continues: ‘I thought about what architecture that is confronted with pine trees, salty wind, sand and the sea should be like, and how to deal with the materiality in a way that presented the lightness of space. Concrete is full of possibilities for an architect. It is prized for its malleability, which allows it to form just about any shape freely.’ The high-density, oblique structure may form a radical juxtaposition with the open atmosphere of the interior but, despite the material’s heavy typecasting, it would be wise to take precautions to not get blown away.

Plan – First Floor

Plan – Second Floor/Third Floor

Sections – 1. Office / 2. Indoor Stage / 3. Rooftop Deck / 4. Outdoor Stage / 5. Pond / 6. Hall / 7. Support Facility
Location 286 Haemaji-ro, Busan, South Korea