Verge House 

Designer: Chao-Chun Wei
Time: 2020 winter    
Location: Tainan, Taiwan
A restaurant, bnb and residence

The project is located among the prototypical streetscape in the city of Tainan. This is where the former Harbor of Wu-Tiao located some 200 years ago. Lines of water used to run in parallel, with rows of long houses flanking both shores. Gradually the harbor was phased out of usage, and this area got remodeled using modern methods of planning, on which chessboard of roads were drawn. This brings about a new urban fabric, under which extremely slim plots of properties with its longer side facing the street appears—the kind of land our site belongs to.

The brief is to house a commercial space along with private residence and bnb, under which a new kind of configuration and experience for a Chinese restaurant of cooked wheaten food is explored. In Taiwan, this trunk of delicacy was brought in during the China civil war, by the wave of immigrants mainly composed of retreated armies and their families. They blended into the local society in Taiwan, living in the government-built veterans’ villages after the war. Some of them started up restaurants offering food of their hometown, a large proportion of which is from north-eastern mainland China. These foods represent the Chinese “wheat culture” with a local twist, forming the now so called “veterans’ village style” delicacies.

Extracting concepts from the aforementioned, the design is set toward creating a verticalized veterans’ village, with voids, cutouts and tiered levels providing dynamic contacts among public accessible spaces, while the private residence for the owner is like a detached form of organic creature perching atop. The restaurant within will be divided into sectors, with specified kitchen delineating different wheat-related cooking styles dedicated to each. Visitors could wander up and down the circulation for various experience, a metaphor of the life of villages, where inhabitants bring up daily chats by sauntering through the doors.   

Considering the site’s slim nature, potentially dim and oppressive space could occur if not designed discreetly. Thus, to open up its front façade for airy connection to the city beyond is vital. The tiered levels facing southwest could bring in seasonal wind for cooling up in summer, as well as providing spectacular views of sunset hanging midair at the end of the street. Circulation runs at the outer edge winding all the way up to the bnb at third floor, ending with a translucent screen blocking public access further up the private residence.

Programmatically, there’s a noodle bar on ground floor, with a winding roll of bar stools surrounding the kitchen counter. It is accessed through door beside the stair, which leads to the upper two floors of dining spaces scattered with different sectors of kitchens. The toilet is also located on the ground floor for the general public.

Its sculptural form is designed for it to look like a natural formation that provides possible spaces, instead of intervention just to occupy the site for maximum use. The steel, aluminum, glass, wood and concrete composed shell is a reference to the dynamic roof and front additions that define the surrounding city disposition.

Approaching a difficult plot that may have brought compression to the streetscape if developed, the design seeks to put forward the possibility of a terrain, that in contrast spill out its open formal language to provide a welcoming gesture to many of the closed-off bastion beyond, and to expand boundaries of collective city ownership through lifestyle of sharing and cross-permeating around near-ground domains. Here the design looks forward to a township where people stop blocking public walkways for self-territory, and to view themselves part of living urban organic at large.




The restaurant at first floor bears a sense of interiority, overlooking while subtly detached, from the streetscape below. This kind of spatial experience is frequently found in a city where the ground floor storefronts were mostly occupied, new restaurants seek their place upwards. While these places are hardly recognized by pedestrians, if found, new point of viewing the running civic lives below are unfolded. The design tries to resolve the secretness of these first-floors, bridging and exhibiting their potential to the public by protruding open forms, with vertical circulation that is more integrated and connected to the urban fabric and activities.

The second-floor dining space is more like an elevated urban alley, where small food stands would utilize the intimate terrain, morphing themselves into it, rendering the space of alleys the ambiguity between passage and destination. The stands and seats rely onto the existing larger structures to define their dynamic selves.

The two bnb rooms on the third floor are provided with a sense of village instead of a sense of being inside a building. This is achieved through offsetting some parts of the floor inward while protruding other parts of the floor outward relatively to the floors below. A diverse relationship with the diners, the pedestrians and the city beyond is provided, in expect to challenge the prevailing closed off upper floors within the city.

The owner’s house is accessed through the stair behind, which leads to an organic mass that seems to flow upon the structure. The space within is designed to be intimate and compact, just fitting for an old couple running the restaurant below. The large patio attains, and exemplifies a sufficiency of outdoor space in this congested environment, boosting openness both physically and mentally. It’s a piece of dwelling which at the same time independent but bonded to its context.