Hanging by a moment: A home suspended between two hills in California
by Sunena V MajuOct 17, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Afra SafaPublished on : Feb 09, 2023
Carried out by the Iran-based A.H. Office, the Acco Café is a renovation and reinterpretation of a residential structure into a modern café. The renovation was carried out by architect Amin Hajmohammadi, and was introduced in 2022, in the city of Kerman, Iran. It strives to merge elements of contemporary and traditional architecture, creating a space that serves a modern function in an ancient city.
Kerman is a city that by some accounts dates back to as far as 500 BCE and is close to important UNESCO site heritages, such as the Bam Citadel or Arg-e Bam. Home to 600,000 people, it is a scientifically-inclined city, and a centre for research and medical practices, owing to its renowned universities. Despite being in the proximity of Iran's central desert, Kerman sits at a strangely high altitude, benefiting from a milder climate compared to the other desert cities.
The original residential architecture was a typical brick building, common in Iran in the 1990s, owing to the economic nature of a country that, at the time, had just come out of a war. The site gives access to the street on two sides, one through the garden gate and another through the main building; a feature that is beneficial to such a business. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the original house is the patio and the spacious garden, which makes the site well-suited for reinterpretation as a café.
Beginning from the outdoor spaces of the project, the garden has been designed with a colour palette consisting mainly of black, white, and shades of grey. This gives a sense of spaciousness to each of the rooms and allows the architectural elements of the main building's facade to stand out. There is an elegant and modern contrast in the interior design, such as—the sleek whiteness of the bricks or the dramatic arch of the entrance or the concrete shades of the roof that are strikingly black.
Other elements in the garden, such as the plants and the small fishpond, give serenity and character to the space. The choice of cactus is a smart move to create a more rough and modern space, that complements the black and white theme of the garden. The round pool full of redfish, although minimal and modern, is reminiscent of the pools one sees in central courtyards of traditional Iranian architecture.
On the other side of the site, where the building opens up to the street, a bakery has been designed. A strategic and smart choice that is beneficial to the target business. The facade on this side follows the grey theme of the inside garden. The outer wall of the property is a screen made up of a square-grid that creates a semi-transparent separation between the inside of the café and the outside urban space; passers-by can have a glimpse of the alluring inside but are also separated from the serene sanctuary inside.
The sidewalk also allows for a few tables to be placed on the other side, as well. As far as the vegetation on this side of the project goes, the choice of cypress is an interesting one, and not without connotations and meaning, since cypress has many symbolic interpretations in Iranian culture. The black wall encircles the tree, almost protectively, and the cypress grows through a void in the upper frame of the gate, as if it is cutting through it to reach the sky.
Stepping into the café, the users encounter many curves, hidden spaces, and unique colour choices. In designing this project, Hajmohammadi and his team were inspired by the arches and light shafts of traditional desert architecture, local to Kerman. They merged it with modern curved lines and modern materials to reach a middle ground, in between. The project also imposed limitations on the A. H. Office, since it was economically impossible to demolish the main walls and so they had to work around the forms they were given.
The design of the space is initially concentrated on the ceiling and then the visual focus slowly drags towards the edges, walls, and then the floor via serene, curved forms. The lines and forms on the ceiling are closely inspired by the ceilings and light shafts of desert architecture—which allows the light in through holes on the ceiling and avoids heat as much as possible—dictating the setting of the furniture and sitting positions of the café.
Juxtaposing the unique blue colour, on certain walls, helps define different spaces while centralising others. Talking about the choice of colour, Hajmohammadi elaborates, “The colour we used, is a shade of blue that has been mixed with a certain amount of green, this colour is utilised widely in the traditional architecture of Iran and also is observed widely in nature.”
The colour palette is certainly not the only element inspired by Iranian traditional architecture. Arches play an important visual role alongside the curves on the ceiling and have been an inseparable element of Persian architecture for thousands of years. Variations and interpretations of the arch are used as doorways and voids on the walls for visual dynamism.
In the case of the café, the arches have been used to create private booths. Creating a small niche for customers who prefer a little more privacy, they are an interesting function for an ancient element. Netted walls define the space while maintaining the flow between them, reminiscent of latticework, they are a modern simplified motif of a black outlined square.
Lastly, the dramatic indoor tree, in its round concrete pot, is a daring move in the interior design of the space. It defines the space smoothly and on a hot summer day functions as giving a sense of sitting outside, while indoors, becoming a respite from the desert heat.
Name: Acco Café
Location: Kerman, Iran
Architect: Amin Hajmohammadi
Area: 250 sqm
Year of completion: 2022
Design team: A.H.Office
by Anmol Ahuja Mar 27, 2023
Designed over the site of an abandoned 1950s petrol station in London, the building borrows its visual vocabulary from nearby railway arches and housing complexes.
by Jerry Elengical Mar 27, 2023
STIR interviews the author of Mies van der Rohe: The Collective Housing Collection about Mies' pioneering exploits in urban housing, for the late architect’s 137th birth anniversary.
by Pooja Suresh Hollannavar Mar 25, 2023
Antwerp-based Studio Okami creates a modern home wrapped in reflective aluminium, glass, and concrete.
by Salvatore Peluso Mar 24, 2023
Solar Futures: How to Design a Post-Fossil World with the Sun by designer Marjan van Aubel explores the past, present and future of solar energy.
make your fridays matterSUBSCRIBE
Don't have an account?Sign Up
Or you can join with
Please select your profession for an enhanced experience.
Tap on things that interests you.
Select the Conversation Category you would like to watch
Please enter your details and click submit.
Enter the code sent to
What do you think?