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Ben Thanh Restaurant in Saigon Experiments with Transparencies to Connect with Its Surrounding

Ben Thanh Restaurant stands across Ben Thanh Market area, a landmark in the heart of Ho Chi Min City. The restaurant is housed within one of the France Colonial shophouses surrounding the market. To this day, these heritage shophouses can be seen preserved and mostly being used as shops, offices, and eateries, serving the needs of Saigon City citizens.

Designed by NISHIZAWAARCHITECTS, the restaurant displays a harmonization between the building and its surrounding. To generate harmony, the architect removed the additional skin on the existing façade and introduces two layers of transparency which are placed on the outside and the inside of the building.

On the restaurant façade, the transparency takes the form of barely visible iron trellis that resembles the iron screens found on local house facades. The composition helps to transform the original colonial façade into a more abstract and contemporary frontage and subtly distinguishable with its neighboring shophouses.

Another layer of transparency takes place inside the restaurant. As the boundary between indoor and outdoor area, partitions of glass jalousie provide a visual connectivity of Ben Thanh Market within the restaurant. Interestingly, the glass jalousie produces fragmented reflections of the surrounding that dynamically changes in regard to the angle of the glass, the direction of sunlight, weather, and time.

As both transparencies have gaps that allow air and noise to permeate into the restaurant, the harmonization created by the architect grants more than visual context. Being in the restaurant, the sense of smell and hearing are stimulated as well, giving a stronger sense of connectedness with the Ben Thanh Market across the restaurant.

Architect: NISHIZAWAARCHITECTS

Completion Year: 2017

Location: District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

Floor Area: 440 sqm

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