Atelier Nguyen Pham‘s latest project in the heart of Saigon brings a touch of Tuscany to the city’s culinary scene. Childhood friends Federico and Valerio from Pitigliano embarked on a journey to create an al fresco dining experience that integrates with the lush Vietnamese landscape.
Since 2015, their restaurant Pasta Fresca, a culinary gem in the bustling city, has been a celebration of Italian cuisine and a commitment to preserving the essence of outdoor dining. However, with Saigon’s tropical climate and a six-month rainy season, challenges arose.
In this unique project, the landscape is not merely a backdrop but an integral part of the architectural canvas. The existing trees become artistic elements, providing a picturesque façade, natural dividers, and playful shadows.
To overcome the challenges presented by the weather, the architects crafted a clear framing structure that weaves through the existing trees, creating a blend of order and disorder. This frame, meticulously measured to accommodate different tree sizes, became the foundation for the innovative wooden canopies.
The 2-layer wooden roof, named “the filter” and “the cover,” becomes a protective shield against Saigon’s elements while maintaining the garden’s al fresco atmosphere. The lower layer, with longitudinal wooden beams and louvers, acts as a filter, while the upper layer, adorned with wooden panel shingles, becomes the cover.
In this “Soft Architecture,” the extension dissolves seamlessly into the landscape. From within, the architecture reveals itself solely as the ceiling, allowing the natural setting to shape the restaurant’s facade. The floor remains a garden oasis, adorned with gravel, boulders, and the natural allure of a Tuscany-inspired haven.
As the sun sets, the al fresco magic continues with a meticulously designed lighting scenario. Cozy and intimate, the dining area comes alive with luminaires nestled in the columns, casting a warm glow. Downlights installed on the timbers illuminate the ceiling, while spotlights along the hedge accentuate the restaurant area. The carefully chosen color temperature, ranging from 2500-3000k, ensures a seamless transition between the kitchen, storage, staff area, and dining zone.
While currently protected by the trees, the relationship between the architectural structure and the natural canopy will evolve. A space defined not only by the lush foliage overhead but equally by the stunning wooden roof – a captivating al fresco design in the heart of Saigon.
Photo Credits: Giuseppe De Francesco