Café Blue Whale by None Space
Café Blue Whale expresses the philosophy and meaning of the Blue Whale while providing comfort and stability of drifting in the deep ocean.
The ‘Blue Whale’ is feared for its gigantic size, but it it also known as an
animal that symbolizes dream, hope and warmth. The movement of
whales swimming gently in the deep ocean, and the wave of water as the
whale rises and drops on the surface is peaceful, stable and sometimes
The Café ‘Blue Whale’ was inspired by the heavy and peaceful movements
and its form. The main focus was to express the philosophy and meaning of
Blue Whale while providing comfort and stability of drifting in the deep
ocean. Deep Blue and Warm White tones are used effectively to create a unique color that gives warmth and stability of the deep ocean.
Café Blue whale is a standard workplace for the disabled established with
the support of the Korea Employment Agency for the Disabled. It is a workplace
that employs and operates disabled people who are trained with support
from the agency. It is a warm and humane policy on the national level
that makes companies socially responsible. With the main focus on providing
actual jobs for the disabled and the opportunity of community of communication
between the non-disabled and the disabled. At Blue whale, 16 people with developmental disabilities who are trained as baristas make coffee and blend in with non-disabled to communicate and work. This place is more than just about making profit, it is a place that can make a social statement and was designed to be extra warm place for those in it.
The name of blue whale is from the animal that is a symbol of hope, and it
means a café that warmly embraces the disabled. It is difficult for the disabled
to independently do activities and achieve their dreams. The café aims to be a warm and considerate ‘Whale in the deep ocean’ where they can achieve their dreams. Time and movement in this place flows slowly, like the little waves of the sea. In the contemporary world, where everything is fast and even faster, may Blue whale’s time flow like the gentle, calm waves of the sea, and may the disabled and the non-disabled be communicating and learn more about each other in this warm space
Metal louvers were attached to the existing old stone buildings. The curved metal louvers that embodies the waves of the sea gradually change in height. The delicate changes in the louver that rises and falls within a single millimeter expresses the slow time and wave. Through the curves. the old building can be seen like a reflection, making it seem naturally connected to the newer building, and at the same time cross-displaying the past and the present. The entire front and side of the façade have glass walls that naturally guides the footsteps inside, making it a welcoming open space to anyone, disabled or not.
The metal louver surrounding the outer wall of the building extends to the interior space in a streamlined form. This louver form a gentle streamlined shape that encompasses the entire space, gently embracing the atmosphere. This metal louver also shows the continuity of the interior and exterior, and at the same time, plays a central role in encompassing the entire atmosphere of the space. At the center of the hall, a blue glossy epoxy, the ceiling metal, and the object comes together to form a space where soft curve sofas are placed to facilitate free communication that creates vitality. The wavy object on the ceiling and the wave pattern metals resemble a whale that rises to the surface to catch a breath, then
dives back. The cool and bluish color of the object on the ceiling and the floor are reflected on the ceiling, providing with the comforting, stable sensation of being submerged in the ocean.
The wall behind the counter is a reflective surface, showing the entire space in its reflection. In front of the mirror is the blue acrylic louver dyed in gradation, reflected in the mirror as well. The layers of reflection allows the louver on the ceiling be continued to the floor, but with a different texture and material so that it stays interesting. The symbolic color of the Blue Whale provides the sensation of looking at the sunlit surface from deep inside the sea. The lower part of the counter is even decorated with corals and sand.
While the calmness and comfort of the sea were expressed metaphorically in the hall, the elements of nature is more directly expressed in the bathroom. The water in the ceiling creates rippled light patterns on the entire surface, providing a direct sensation of being underwater. Using different materials, the men’s room expresses a bright and soft surface, and the lady’s room expresses a deep ocean.
The Blue Whale is not required to abide by the legal standards for the disabled, but nevertheless it contains elements of consideration for them, as it is managed and used by the disabled. The slope at the entrance, the width of the passageway, the size of the toilet, the angle of the mirror were designed with careful consideration for those in wheelchairs. There is not a single sharp corner on the entire walls, and the furniture also have round, safe corners to prevent any injuries. On the round sofa, there are round hand rails so one can hold or lean on them.
Project: Cafe ‘Blue Whale’
Location: Seoul, Korea
Design House: None Space
Photography: Jungbae Shin