There’s one sure way to make your building stand out on a street full of colorful but conventional architecture: give it some curves. For “September Cafe,” a multi-level delight set between two houses in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, architecture firm Red5studio took swirling organic curvature to the extreme, and the result is truly stunning. Collaborating with interior design firm Ben Decor on a cohesive creative vision inside and out, the architects took inspiration from bird’s nests, using giant steel strips to adorn the facade.
Red5studio didn’t need to weave these metal strips into a typical nest shape or use any shades of brown to evoke the feeling of a nest. Their abstracted interpretation sets the tone in a refreshing shade of pale yellow, partially obscured by a living tree sprouting from the sidewalk out front. And while it’s certainly distinct from the homes and businesses that surround it, the cafe manages to avoid alienating its neighbors. As different as it is, it feels like it fits right in.
The architects previously created another location for café brand September called “Autumn and Fall Leaves.” This location, “The Wind and the Nest,” continues that story. They wanted to focus on the feeling of fresh air, movement, and connection to nature while also establishing an engaging series of nooks and crannies within the café that encourage visitors to get comfortable, have conversations, and enjoy both the food and the setting.
That invitation to linger is a striking departure from the fast-paced café and restaurant culture in many other countries like the U.S., which often prioritizes moving patrons in and out quickly to accommodate the greatest possible number of people per day. Here, comfort is prioritized, and as you walk through each level and each outdoor terrace, you enjoy a feeling of discovery. With all that greenery in an urban environment and the visual interest of the architecture itself, you could spend hours just taking in the scenery.
One of the coolest things about this design is that the steel ribbons actually sway slightly in the wind, “like a symbolic image of birds on a branch,” as the architects explain. That gives the building a dynamic feeling, almost as if it’s alive.
The designers explain that “to create the familiar and characteristic feeling of September, we use gentle neutral tones such as white, beige, rose-orange, and natural wood colors. Besides that, the circular image and the curve [reoccur in] the glass holes of the entrance, stairs, on the wall, and even just the tiny details on the furniture. The wind’s image is led by curves in space, through the ceiling, walls, and floor, creating a light feeling like a breeze spreading into each corner.”
“If the rooftop is an aerial garden, the lamp section is like a branch supporting the nest, and this is also the highlight of the space for those who love to check in and is the smoking area. The entire furniture and space was inspired by bird’s nests, curves, branches, birds on branches, and simply a tiny dot circle, all creating a bird’s nest in the heart of the city.”