Orange Thimble Cafe

Tiong Bahru Conservation
Commercial Interior: Completed 2011

The original design proposal for this born-again cafe took a conservationist stance where the true grit and grime of a Tiong Bahru sewing supplies store will remain faithful to its every scar, peel in the wall, scratch on the floor. To that extent, the owners also decided to pay homage to heritage by naming it The Orange Thimble Cafe: an art gallery-cum-cafe.

The newly inserted programs necessary for its programmatic transformation took the form of a carefully inserted continuous timber element that, when at junctions with the existing structure, dissolved into a glow of light. Even the old timber shelves were reassembled into new countertops for the cafe’s island units. These points of interface sought to manifest the old-and-new while creating possible locations for the display of photographic slides. The design intention was for photographic projections of light onto the architecture which itself is exhibit, challenging the notion of an exhibition and the exhibited and consuming, at the same time, the inhabitants’ own bodies between a play of past and present through art.

Like a second lining to its original confines, the new is inserted into an old shop space and at their contact junctions, are opportunities for architectural heritage of Tiong Bahru to be showcased as art and simultaneously for the display of new art.

Photos by LH Thio.